Jumping the green is an excellent first novel by Leslie Schwartz, a meditation on grief and self-annihilation.

The main character Louise Goldblum is a sculptor. She is creating an installation based on the death of her beautiful sister Esther who was murdered by an unknown man that she had just had sex with in a motel. Louise obsessively recreates in her mind the moments leading up to the death of the sister she idolized. Esther's death was a seemingly inevitable consequence of her own risk-taking self-destructive behaviour, brought on by guilt over the suicide of her boyfriend.

Louise's attempts to make sense of her sister's death lead her to imitate Esther's dangerous lifestyle. She meets a photographer Zeke who initiates her into a world of humiliation and sadomasochistic sex. Zeke tells her

I might hurt you. I haven't killed anyone. Not yet. The safe word is cease. You say cease, I stop.

From then on we wonder whether Louise will be able to resolve her feelings about Esther's death and say cease or whether Zeke will kill her.

As well as being dark the novel is funny and clever with some wonderful descriptions of growing up with an alcoholic mother. The author's voice is always clear and true. If you're writing a novel yourself this will make you feel sick!

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