Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

"The Lost Art of Sinking" by Naomi Booth (Penned in the margins, 2015)

Ester got into swooning because her mother, an ex ballet dancer, liked it - "There is no falling in love without the swoon" (p.15). After her mother's death she finds ever more ways to swoon (including approaching an artist who specialized in photographing asphyxiated people, and spending a day shadowing a phlebotomist), drifting from man to man, job to job. One man collects her from school - "He sometimes had a bag of chips waiting for me, making the front seat warm and salty-damp when I sat on it in my school skirt" (p.38). While she's staying in a squat, a fellow squatter kills himself and his dog is put down, which puzzled me. Perhaps it's supposed to echo the other suicide?

Descriptions of streets and interiors are sharp. Smelly men, fractals and alcoholic mothers are repeated themes. I think the final disclosure that her mother's death was a staged suicide is supposed to be a surprise, but I'd assumed it.

It has elements of an off-beat comedy, and the people we meet on the way have interesting stories to tell. Her swooning-wish at times seems like a wish to lose Self, verging (with the artist) towards suicidal thoughts. But she backs down each time.

Other reviews

  • Goodreads
  • Sameer Rahim (Prospect Magazine)
  • Bethany W Pope (Sabotage Reviews) (early chapters are faintly reminiscent of good student work and could have stood some revision. This novella definitely gathers strength and force as it moves along)

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