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Recommended Reading

Ducks, Newburyport

Lucy Ellmann

Text Publishing

Do you worry a lot? Do you find yourself thinking that this isn’t a great world to be raising kids in? Do you sometimes believe that you don’t have what it takes? If you answered yes to these questions, then chances are that you’re a mother. With this miracle of a book, Lucy Ellmann cleverly exposes the raw nerves of a woman trying to raise and protect a brood of kids in a patriarchal and violent world. The fact that the narrator lives in Ohio, America, with outrageous gun laws, a nutter in the white house, and a mountain lion on the loose, means that her terrors are 100 percent real. 1000 pages of a more or less one-sentence stream-of-consciousness, through which the mountain lion’s own experience of mothering is woven, contains so much to chew on. I’ve noticed a couple of male reviewers state that this is one over-anxious self-employed pie-maker, but I don’t agree. And yes, I readily admit I probably err on the over-anxious side myself but maybejustmaybe all mothers do. Because what happens if you fail to protect those whose lives you’re entrusted with? An absolutely BRILLIANT book.

The Man Who Saw Everything

Deborah Levy

Penguin Books

Deborah Levy is an undisputed master of the novel. She’s been shortlisted for the Booker several times over. Her writing is sparse, confident and incredibly clever. You get the sense that in another life she would have made a brilliant psychoanalyst. She’s my kind of writer. Her books are strange and dreamy, stacked with symbolism and multilayered. But this one - this one -is the bomb. There may not be smoke but there are plenty of mirrors and it would take a lifetime to unpack this box of tricks. Divided in two parts - split, broken, fractured, doubled - we first meet raven-haired, blue-eyed beauty Saul in 1988 as he heads off as a young man to East Germany as research for his study into the psychology of male tyrants. Brutality exists in his past with a Jewish mother, a brutal father and his bullying brother he calls Fat Matt. He’s fluid in his sexuality which causes tectonic reverbrations throughout his life and the lives of those he touches. The second part of the book sees Saul in hospital in 2016. The dates are significant, as they’re located on political fracture lines. There are car accidents, there are hallucinations, dreams and strange conversations. Reflections and fragments. There is regret and grief. There’s really nothing I can say about it that will do this book justice. It’s an incredible read, and I’m tempted to reread it all over again right now.

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