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Spill simmer falter wither by Sara Baume

Spill simmer falter wither (2015)

by Sara Baume

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2031757,794 (3.79)37



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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Hard book to review. Character study where very little happens and is narrated by a lonely man who adopts a dog. I enjoyed his love of his dog, despite the sad fact that it's literally the first relationship this poor guy has ever had. I even skimmed a large portion of this book, even though it's beautifully written - the list of his observations were just too tedious. I'm glad I read this book and it'll stick with me a long time but it was a sad road trip to travel. ( )
  mfabriz | Jun 26, 2017 |
Ray and One Eye, two misfits who've found each other, are forced by fear into a life on the road. Ray addresses the narrative to One Eye ("you"), an unusual second-person device that is remarkably intimate and powerful. While the exploration of isolation may be too grim for some, the writing is gorgeous, and the evocation of the relationship between human and dog unforgettably rich. ( )
  beaujoe | May 27, 2017 |
During the book we grow to appreciate the desperate life of a man alone, handicapped to a large extent due to neglectful, uncaring parenting by his recently diseased father. A dog becomes his hope and companion, but as the man is flawed, so is his dog. Increasingly desperate and afraid, the future grows dim. Without family and unable to find friends, darkness eventually prevails. However, this listener is left feeling not the man, but the community has failed. "But for the Grace of God go I." ( )
  KyCharlie | Apr 3, 2017 |
The book is told as an ongoing 'conversation' between a man and his dog One eye.

You find me on a Tuesday, on my Tuesday trip to town. A note sellotaped to the inside of the jumble-shop window: COMPASSIONATE & TOLERANT OWNER. A PERSON WITHOUT OTHER PETS & WITHOUT CHILDREN UNDER FOUR.

The book explores the friendship of man and beast, with both being outcasts and misfits. It is often lyrical and beautifully developed. It is literary but not self-consciously though, I've read reviews that say it is plotless, which is a little unfair. There is a sense of forlorn loneliness that runs through the novel and it could have been maudlin if mishandled. But Baume has a deft touch and it is therefore touchingly melancholy. But it is still a pleasurable read as Baume's imagery and poetic prose is a delight.

Initially, I wasn't sure if I'd get on with the style but I soon settled into Baume's rhythm and couldn't wait to get back to the book on the few occasions I had to put it down.

I'd highly recommend this book ( )
  psutto | Jan 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
In many ways, Baume’s book resembles another debut novel, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003). Like Ray, Haddon’s protagonist has a single father who’s concealed crucial details of his mother’s death from his son. The unexpected intervention of an unassuming dog helps both characters find their way to a better understanding of their families and themselves. But where Curious Incident takes its narrative cues from a logical, rule-bound perspective on an overwhelming reality, Spill Simmer Falter Wither does the opposite. Baume’s novel revels in aesthetic leaps and dives, embracing the poetry of sensory experience in all its baffling beauty from the title onward.
Ray, a disabled man, adopts One Eye, a rescue dog injured while badger baiting, in this debut novel.

We get to know Ray as he speaks to One Eye: “I’m fifty-seven. Too old for starting over, too young for giving up.” We learn he leaves his lonely home on the coast of Ireland once a week to visit the post office and the grocery store. He used to attend Mass, but he hasn’t been lately. He’s a reader and uses the “mobile library.” Ray is alone and both appears and feels different than other people. He tells One Eye, “Sometimes I see the sadness in you, the same sadness that’s in me….My sadness isn’t a way I feel but a thing trapped inside the walls of my flesh, like a smog.” In another passage he explains, “The nasturtiums have it figured out, how survival’s just a matter of filling the gaps between sun up and sun down.”
added by smasler | editKirkus Reivews (Jan 1, 2016)
This fine debut novel, originally published by the independent Irish publisher Tramp Press, now in a Heinemann paperback edition, and longlisted for this year’s Guardian first book award, is a fascinating portrait of the friendship a man develops with his dog and the companionship he also finds in books. (“I longed to be left to my books,” he reminisces. “I wish you could understand when I read to you,” he tells his dog.) The man and dog are both outsiders in a claustrophobic coastal community and both are weighed down by fear and sadness.
added by smasler | editThe Guardian, Anita Sethi (Sep 13, 2015)
Baume is not one of those storytellers who supply the entire picture. She drops clues and leaves gaps. You deduce that the narrator’s name is Ray, that his late father was Robin. The action begins in coastal east Co Cork, perhaps near the oil refinery at Whitegate, before narrator and dog are forced by local misunderstanding or mishap to take to the road as fugitives. Ray includes his phone number in the novel, but I was afraid to ring it. Baume writes him so persuasively that I felt he would answer.
So confident is this extraordinary debut that the reader doesn’t notice how much of it is narrated in the second person. The “you” intensifies a tone of great intimacy and tact. It’s impossible to write about a “you” without revealing whole reservoirs about the “I”, one of fiction’s loveliest paradoxes.
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for Mum, of course
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He is running, running, running. (Prologue)
You find me on a Tuesday, on my Tuesday trip to town.
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