About the book
Risky in conception, hip and yet soulful, this is a prose poem of a novel — intense, lyrical, and highly evocative — with a mystery at its center, which keeps the reader in suspense until the final page. In a tour de force that could be described as Altmanesque, we are invited into the private lives of the residents of a quiet urban street in England over the course of a single day. In delicate, intricately observed closeup, we witness the hopes, fears, and unspoken despairs of a diverse community: the man with painfully scarred hands who tried in vain to save his wife from a burning house and who must now care for his young daughter alone; a group of young clubgoers just home from an all-night rave, sweetly high and mulling over vague dreams; the nervous young man at number 18 who collects weird urban junk and is haunted by the specter of unrequited love. The tranquillity of the street is shattered at day’s end when a terrible accident occurs. This tragedy and an utterly surprising twist provide the momentum for the book. But it is the author’s exquisite rendering of the ordinary, the everyday, that gives this novel its freshness, its sense of beauty, wonder, and hope. Rarely does a writer appear with so much music and poetry — so much vision — that he can make the world seem new.
Reviewed by New Forest/Waterside U3A theatre and literature reading group:
A triumph of poetic prose and sensitive observation of a small, ordinary collection of people. Though set in a North of England town, its universality led our readers, mentally to place it in several other areas in the UK. By centring our discussion initially on the idea of a moment of complete stillness and exploring our personal experiences of such events, we were able to inhabit a world of which we are all aware but rarely acknowledge. This is not an easy book to read, but for anyone finding joy in the development of the modern novel, it is a must.
Star rating: ****