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Everything Under

by Daisy Johnson

There's something hypnotic about this book. How it weaves in and out of different time-frames, voices, episodes, all revolving around Gretel and her mother, twisty and windy, like the river, around which the story unravels. But the picture is never completely clear. When reading, it's as though you're viewing a scene through frosted glass. And what could be frustrating seems appropriate - and fitting for this book.

Extract

You populated me; you ran the spirals of my thinking. I went to work, sat at the same desk every day, dreamed of something swimming in the River Isis, dreamed of your mouth moving words I could no longer hear. I went to the same shop to buy a sandwich every lunchtime and - standing in the queue one day - I understood suddenly what you had done creating your own language and teaching it to me. We were aliens. We were like the last people on earth. If - in any sense - language determined how we thought then I could never have been any other way than the way I am. And the language I grew up speaking was one no one else spoke. So I was always going to be isolated, lonely, uncomfortable in the presence of others. It was in my language. It was in the language you gave me.

Parallels

Waterland by Graham Swift
Field Work by Seamus Heaney
 

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