Emily Homes Coleman, Shutter of Snow. Penguin Books; Reprint edition, 1986.
In a prose form as startling as its content, The Shutter of Snow portrays the post-partum psychosis of Marthe Gail, who after giving birth to her son, is committed to an insane asylum. Believing herself to be God, she maneuvers through an institutional world that is both sad and terrifying, echoing the worlds of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Snake Pit.
Based upon the author’s own experience after the birth of her son in 1924, The Shutter of Snow retains all the energy it had when first published in 1930.
There were two voices that were louder than the others. At night when the red light was out in the hall and there was someone sitting in a chair in front of the door clearing her throat at intervals there would be the voices far down the hall mingling with sobs and shouts and the drones of those who were beginning to sleep. It was cold and she shivered under the blankets. She cried out that she was cold and the woman came in and took a blanket out and warmed it for her. Then she would be wrapped in the hot blanket very tightly and the covers tucked in over that. My feet are cold. Her throat was always hot, like old bread in the sun. Her lips stood out and were cracked and there was water gushing on the other side of the wall. There was chicken wire up over her door.
The window was closed and the bars went up and down on the outside. She could hear the wind sliding the snow off the roof. An avalanche of snow gathered and fell and buried the sun beneath. There were six bars to the back of her bed.
The voices were carrying stones from one field to another. They dropped the stones and other voices picked them up and threw them into a loose-planked wagon. One of them came from the other side of her bed, the other side of that wall. There was nothing in the room but the bed and the chicken wire and high up on the wall the iron grating where she threw the plates. There was no light in the room. Only a dull red light in the hall. Someone was walking back and forth back and forth passing her door a captive. The voice on the other side of her wall was shouting for someone. It never stopped all night. It became entangled in the blankets and whistled the ice prongs on the wind. The rest of the voices were not so distinct. It was very still out in the hall when the voices stopped.
(Emily Holmes Coleman: the Shutter of Snow)