In a response to the four essays on her work—by Evelyn O'Callaghan, Catherine John, Jenny Sharpe, and Rae Ann Meriwether—published in the same issue of Small Axe, Erna Brodber attempts to explain why her work is so difficult. If O'Callaghan's students complain that Brodber's work makes their heads hurt, they are not alone; even Brodber's colleagues have said this. Brodber takes this opportunity to speak to this “head-hurting,” confessing that much of this difficulty was designed as part of her methodology. She examines each of her published novels and explores the changes in her approach her more recent works—The World Is a High Hill (2012), a collection of twelve stories, and “Nothing's Mat,” a novel awaiting its publisher.

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