Sick Notes by Gwendoline Riley

Sick Notes

Gwendoline Riley

This is the story of Esther, who returns from the States to look for an answer to her loneliness. She seems to have friends but turns away from them all and lives in a dream world. It leaves you wondering whether any of her stories are true. There are some powerful descriptive passages and I wanted to read it to the end but be warned, this is a depressing and complex read. Not for those seeking a light-hearted or uplifting reading experience.

Extract

Back in the flat the bathroom is spinning so I spin the opposite way, smashing both my elbows on the tiles. Then I fall on my knees and make woozy eyes at myself inside the bottom half of the looming mirror. I start sweet-talking my smeary reflection in a sibilant whisper, twitching on eyebrow up and nodding. I get bored with that, rock forward onto all fours and crawl off slippily down the dark hallway towards my bedroom, grazing my knees through my jeans as I go. My eyes are stinging and my skin has an electric tingle in the cold. Silence presses into my thoughts: when I'm making a setentious speech to someone I knew once. I sit down with my back against the radiator. I feel the burn of the cold metal through my cardigan. I hold a hand out and see myself blurring around the edges. Well ... either blurring or glowing ... I stand up and shake myself, clench my teeth to make myself calm. Then I go into the kitchen, take some of my donated crockery from the cupboard and start bowling it down the hallway. I wear myself out at that, and decide to make a nice ghoulish suburban scene for when Donna comes home. I crouch in a darkling corner, with my shoulders hunched, my knees drawn up and a faraway look in my eyes. Broken china round my bare feet. 'I have missed you' she says when she gets in and finds me. I feel a lot better. I don't hoover now, I just put my shoes back on and pick up the bigger plate shards, then find a black marker pen in the cutlery drawer and write on a sheet of our thick cream paper: BARE FEET BEWARE and lay it by the front door with the snow globe holding it in place.

Parallels
  • Cold Water by Gwendoline Riley
  • Brass by Helen Walsh

Books with similar mood

Soviet Milk

Nora Ikstena

An Honorable Man

Paul Vidich

The Last Gift

Abdulrazak Gurnah

Echoes from the Dead

Johan Theorin

Last Rituals

Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Strange Blood

Lindsay Ashford

Astonishing Splashes of Colour

Clare Morrall

The Music of the Spheres

Elizabeth Redfern

The Alphabet of Birds

S J Naudé

Bundu

Chris Barnard

Past the Shallows

Favel Parrett

Secret Son

Laila Lalami

Dead Girls

Nancy Lee

Ashes and Other Stories

Naomi Shepherd

Telling Liddy

Anne Fine

Hard Rain

Irma Venter

Stay With Me

Ayòbámi Adébáyò

The Death of Rex Nhongo

C B George

The Last Treasure Hunt

Jane Alexander

Cinnamon

Samar Yazbek

The Consequences of Love

Sulaiman Addonia

Gate of the Sun

Elias Khoury

The Wonder House

Justine Hardy

School's Out

Christophe Dufosse

The Depths of the Forest

Eugenio Fuentes

Havoc in its Third Year

Ronan Bennett

The Bride from Odessa

Edgardo Cozarinsky

Soul Circus

George Pelecanos

Stone Cold Red Hot

Cath Staincliffe

Fatlands

Sarah Dunant

Speak No Evil

Uzodinma Iweala

Missing

Alison Moore

Wolf Winter

Cecilia Ekback

The Book of Gold Leaves

Mirza Waheed

The Blue Room

Hanne Ørstavik

The Cove

Ron Rash

The Dead Won't Sleep

Anna Smith

Oil on Water

Helon Habila

American Rust

Philipp Meyer

The Witch's Trinity

Erika Mailman

The Shadow Walker

Michael Walters

In the Country of Men

Hisham Matar

Calling Out For You!

Karin Fossum

An Empty Room

Talitha Stevenson

The Hamilton Case

Michelle de Kretser

Mrs Kimble

Jennifer Haigh

The Sixth Lamentation

William Brodrick

The Eskimo in the Net

Gerard Beirne

First Fruits

Penelope Evans