Noëlle Janaczewska has forged a fractured form to tell this splintered story, set in a world of shadows and rot, of creeping malignity and “toxic sweetness”. Words slip and kaleidoscopically refract, shifting meaning and undermining apparent solidity. A multitude of voices – human, animal, vegetable – chime in with their own angle: jaunty, melancholy, chilling. While the work is shot through with threads both musical and theatrical, there is something filmic in the use of intimate close-ups, sound effects, colour bleached and saturated, its depiction of “life lived in the outtakes”. This book is the product of Janaczewska’s voracious curiosity channelled through her startling imagery and unflinching eye.
This is writing of pure wilderness, fearsome and brave. Scratchland is murder and mayhem made art–feral kids, cockroaches, crims, would-be actresses, dollmakers, DIs and lunatic perps: an entire cast assemble to confirm the weirdo pathology of love-of-crime. Janaczewska transforms the genre with astonishing energy and originality: this is elegy, shock-treatment and scary movie in one.