Checkout 19

Riverhead. Mar. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780593420492. $27. F
A voice begins its story with a memory of sitting under a tree in the grass with books. The voice belongs to an Englishwoman in her 40s, living somewhere in Ireland. Readers never learn her name, or many others here. She reads, remembers, and writes. And in a dizzying story at once elliptical, associative, sensuous, and jarring, she summons the elusive symbiosis between lived and imagined experience. Memories of people and events are rooted in the senses, where otherwise dissimilar tastes and smells—marmalade and cigarettes, cucumbers and elastic bands—infuse texture and tangibility into sequences of events and personal habits and traits. Or is it the other way around? The voice offers a brilliant metaphor for her own story when she describes the iris of a rival’s eye as an ouroboros; the serpent eternally swallowing its tail complicates the distinction between beginnings and endings as the voice’s eye blurs and refocuses the connections among reading, writing, and living.
VERDICT Bennett follows her celebrated debut, Pond, with a stunning demonstration of reading as creation.
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