The Pulling

(Trade paper)
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When Adele Dumont is diagnosed with trichotillomania - compulsive hair-pulling - it makes sense of much of her life to date. The seemingly harmless quirk of her late teens, which rapidly developed into almost uncontrollable urges and then into trance-like episodes, is a hallmark of the disease, as is the secrecy with which she guarded her condition from her family, friends, and the world at large.

The diagnosis also opens up a rich line of inquiry. Where might the origins of this condition be found? How can we distinguish between a nervous habit and a compulsion? And how do we balance the relief of being 'seen' by others with our experience of shame?

Reminiscent of the writing of Leslie Jamison and Fiona Wright, The Pulling is a fascinating exploration of the inner workings of a mind. In perfectly judged prose, both probing and affecting, Dumont illuminates how easily ritual can slide into obsession, and how close beneath the surface horror and darkness can lie.

'The Pulling is an intimate and intricately crafted book, a meditation on privacy and the intensity and complexity of interiority, and the ways in which we might maintain this against and within - without losing - the world. It resists the easy narratives and language of illness, and all that these reduce, and is interested instead in the fascination of compulsion, what it offers and might mean. Dumont's writing is both vulnerable and fierce, critical and beautifully detailed, and generous above all else.'
-Fiona Wright, author of Small Acts of Disappearance

'As a lifelong trichotillomaniac, who has never seen my furtive self reflected back in literature, I devoured this astonishing book in one greedy sitting. But even if you have never been a hair-puller or plucker, or skin-picker, nail-biter, or pimple-popper, yet know the pleasure and concomitant shame of self-soothing, by whatever means, you will revel in the humanity, compassion, and insight of Dumont's stunning prose. The Pulling is a memoir that tears away at the quotidian ignominy and pain of "bad" habits, peeling back layers of individual, family, and cultural dis-grace and dis-ease. Rich, remarkable, uncomfortable, and compelling. I loved this book in equal measure to how much I have loathed myself for the corporal crutches the child me learned to steady herself upon in a shaky world, not of my making.'
-Clare Wright, author of The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka

'Adele Dumont's The Pulling is a compulsively readable, frank, and disquieting memoir. Dumont wields Ernaux-like precision to analyse and contextualise the obsession that has made and unmade her life. The writing is candid, fearless, and profound, and it takes on questions most of us lack the backbone to face. Dumont asks what is more real, our lived or unlived lives? Are we ourselves even in our deepest compulsions? The Pulling calls to mind the unsettling clarity of Yiyun Li and Linn Ullmann. I could not put this book down.'
-Ellena Savage, author of Blueberries