Ex Libris | A new series featuring recent reads.
Written by? Jon McGregor
In a nutshell? Elegant. Thought-provoking. Unsettling.
The debrief? These stories are about the moments when life changes in an instant – tiny events that uproot and alter lives forever. Anchored mostly in the unadorned landscape of the Lincolnshire fens, the narrative voice is as bleak as the white wide sky. Deceptively chatty, it soon prove itself unreliable, haunting, unsettling.
There are no happy endings here. No symphonic finales or dramatic literary coups. These are quiet, ostensibly simple stories – arresting in their own plain and subtle way. More about what is absent, left unsaid, than what is, they left me wondering. I can’t stop thinking about them.
Buy or borrow? Buy. You’ll want to return to these stories over and over again. They’re the sort that age well, like a good wine or fancy French cheese – they ripen with each re-read, revealing their depth over time.
A quote to end on: “And sometimes it happens like this: a young man lying face down in the ocean, his limbs hanging loosely beneath him, a motorboat droning slowly across the bay, his body moving in long, slow ripples with each passing shallow wave, the water moving softly across his skin, muffled shouts carrying out across the water, and the electric crackle of waves sliding up against the rocks and birds in the trees and the body of a young man lying in the ocean, face down and breathlessly still.”