Amy Sackville’s Orkney – a haunting week by the seaside.

It’s difficult to decide whether the main feature in this novel is the relationship between the honeymooners or the Orkney seascape. This is a novel with a very voyeuristic feel – a nameless young bride with long, silvery hair sits for hours gazing out at the sea. Inside the rented cottage, her husband Richard, a…

A Journey round Suffolk – Sebald’s Rings of Saturn reviewed

It’s with some shame that I admit I’ve had this book on my shelf for years but only just got round to reading it. Described as an influence by many of the psychogeographers that fill my bookshelves, I was expecting great things. Based in August 1992, this piece of writing weaves history and landscape together…

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin: Selected Poems. A Review

This is an extensive selection of poems, many of which feel like the poetic interpretation of a Chagall painting, full of dream-like, surreal imagery haunted by ghosts and steeped in natural imagery such as ‘The Girl who Married the Reindeer’. The earlier poems at the beginning of the collection are filled with references to agriculture…

All the Beggars Rising: Lucy Caldwell

Being Various was one of my favourite books in 2019, so I was intrigued to read more fiction from Lucy Caldwell. Enter All the Beggars Rising. Written from the point of view of Lara, a middle-aged woman with a chequered childhood, it’s a story about struggling to shrug off the ghosts of the past.  It’s…

Christmas in Austin: A Review

Centred around the four Essinger family as they descend upon their family home for Christmas, this is Markovtiz’s seventh novel and a typically incisive examination of the tensions in familial relationships. With each member of the family given their own turn at the narrative we get an insight into the conflict between living a life…

Big Sur – A Review

Big Sur is the quasi-autobiographical tale of Jack Duluoz who tries to escape his life in San Francisco by seeking solitude in a cabin the wilds of Big Sur. Expecting a lyrical exploration of adventures in the wilderness, I settled down in the dark night at Deetjens on Big Sur with the copy I’d picked…

Put that Phone Away! Review of Cal Newport’s ‘Digital Minimalism’

Everyone knows that social media is making us unhappy. If like me, you’ve tried to put your phone away, cut down on social media use etc only to fail miserably after a couple of days, you’ll understand the frustration of feeling like you’re controlled by the need to ‘stay connected’. What makes this book such…

Melmoth by Sarah Perry: A Review

It’s not very often that the protagonist of a novel is described with disgust but yet manages to elicit our sympathies, but that is just one of the many astonishing things about this wonderful book. The central character is Helen Franklin, a fairly pitiable woman in her early 40s working as a translator in Prague,…

The Weather in Normal

This is a collection centred around space – the space in time between now and Etter’s childhood, the space of the great Illinois prairies and the space on the page that Etter uses so masterfully. ‘Night Ode’, the opening poem in the collection sets out the stall – the poems that follow will explore nostalgia,…