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Audio CD (MP3 Una) 2016-08-02
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Pond

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Published by Riverhead Books on 2016-07-12
Hardcover: £19.63
LITERARY COLLECTIONS, FICTION / Anthologies (multiple authors), FICTION / Short Stories (single author), FICTION / Thrillers


Shortlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize 
Named one of The Millions' Most Anticpated Books of 2016

“A sharp, funny, and eccentric debut … Pond makes the case for Bennett as an innovative writer of real talent. … [It]reminds us that small things have great depths.”New York Times Book Review

"Dazzling…exquisitely written and daring ." –O, the Oprah Magazine


Immediately upon its publication in Ireland, Claire-Louise Bennett’s debut began to attract attention well beyond the expectations of the tiny Irish press that published it. A deceptively slender volume, it captures with utterly mesmerizing virtuosity the interior reality of its unnamed protagonist, a young woman living a singular and mostly solitary existence on the outskirts of a small coastal village. Sidestepping the usual conventions of narrative, it focuses on the details of her daily experience—from the best way to eat porridge or bananas to an encounter with cows—rendered sometimes in story-length, story-like stretches of narrative, sometimes in fragments no longer than a page, but always suffused with the hypersaturated, almost synesthetic intensity of the physical world that we remember from childhood. The effect is of character refracted and ventriloquized by environment, catching as it bounces her longings, frustrations, and disappointments—the ending of an affair, or the ambivalent beginning with a new lover. As the narrator’s persona emerges in all its eccentricity, sometimes painfully and often hilariously, we cannot help but see mirrored there our own fraught desires and limitations, and our own fugitive desire, despite everything, to be known.

Shimmering and unusual, Pond demands to be devoured in a single sitting that will linger long after the last page.
(Hardcover, 2016-07-12)
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ASIN: 0399575898
ISBN: 9780399575891
EAN: 9780399575891

ACTIVITY FROM AROUND THE WEB
Pond

Delivered through an unnamed narrator, Claire-Louise Bennett’s POND is a captivating, challenging and uniquely compelling collection of short stories that combine the mundane with the endlessly fascinating.

Although Bennett has not written a plot- or even character-driven book, the consistency of her language ties every section together flawlessly. Her mastery of the English language is, at least in my experience, unparalleled. In fact, while reading POND, I was often reminded of preparing for my high school AP test and learning about alliteration, assonance and rhythm, as Bennett has clearly studied ...

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POND

POND Claire-Louise Bennett R i v e r h e a d B o o k s New York 2016

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC 375 Hudson Street New York, New York 10014 Copyright ? 2015 by ? Claire-''Louise Bennett First published in Ireland by Stinging Fly Press, 2015 First American edition published by Riverhead Books, 2016 Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader. Earlier versions of some of these stories appeared in The Penny Dreadful, The White Review, 3:AM Magazine, and The Stinging Fly. Jacket art: detail of Fair is foul and foul is fair, ? 2015 by Margriet Smulders (margrietsmulders.nl) Library of Congress Cataloging'in'Publication Data Names: Bennett, Claire-Louise, author. Title: Pond / Claire-Louise Bennett. Description: First American edition. | New York : Riverhead Books, 2016. Identifiers: LCCN 2016002762 | ISBN 9780399575891 (hardcover) Subjects: BISAC: FICTION / Literary. Contemporary Women. Psychological. Classification: LCC PR6102.E562 A6 2016 | DDC 823/.92'dc23 LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2016002762 p.'''cm. Printed in the United States of America 1'3'5'7'9'10'8'6'4'2 Book design by Marysarah Quinn This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

CON T EN TS Voyage in the Dark 1 Morning, Noon & Night 3 First Thing 29 The Big Day 31 Wishful Thinking 51 A Little Before Seven 53 To a God Unknown 65 Two Since 69 'Weeks Stir-''fry 71 Finishing Touch 73 Control Knobs 83 Postcard 107 The Deepest Sea 109

Oh, Tomato Puree! 125 Morning, 1908 127 The Gloves Are Off 141 Over & Done With 157 Words Escape Me 163 Lady of the House 169 Old Ground 193

For now in every exuberant joy there is heard an undertone of terror, or else a wistful lament over an irrecoverable loss. It is as though? .' .' .' nature were bemoaning the fact of her fragmentation, her decomposition into separate individuals. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy Could it be that any apartment, any one at all, might eventually become a burrow? Would any place eventually welcome me into its dim, warm, reassuring, kindly light? Natalia Ginzburg, 'A Place to Live? Wolves in shells are crueller than stray ones. Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

POND

{ 1 } Voyage in the Dark Fhandsome. i r st of a l l , it seemed to us that you were very And the principal windows of your house were perfectly positioned to display a blazing reflection at sunset. One evening while walking back from the fields this effect was so dramatic we thought your rooms were burning. We liked nothing better than to rake the tinkling gravel on your drive, then to climb an impeccable tree along its passage and wait. We would hear the engine loud in the valley, followed by a thrilling silence within which we would wave our boots and imagine the leather grip of your hands upon the steering wheel, left and right. Oh, but'we were only little girls, little girls, there on the cusp of'female individuation, not little girls for long. The other

{ 2 } two? hung back by the brook with cups on sticks while I made my way over the wall into your ornamental garden,'lay down upon the unfeasible grass and fell to sleep wrapped about a lilac seashell, which was of course my most cherished possession.

{ 3 } Morning, Noon & Night Snot om e t i m e s a b a na na with coffee is nice. It ought to be too ? ripe'''in fact there should be a definite remainder of green along the stalk, and if there isn't, forget? about it. Though admittedly that is easier said than done. Apples can be forgotten about, but not bananas, not really. They don't in fact take at all well to being forgotten about. They wizen and stink of putrid and go almost black. Oatcakes along with it can be nice, the rough sort. The rough sort of oatcake goes especially well with a banana by the ? way'''by the way, the banana might be chilled slightly. This can occur in the fridge overnight of course, depending'on how prescient and steadfast one is about one's morning victuals, or, it might be, and this in fact is much more preferable, there's a nice cool windowsill where a bowl especially for fruit can always be placed.

{ 4 } A splendid deep wide sill with no wooden overlay, just the plastered stone, nice and chilly: the perfect place for a bowl. Even a few actually, a few bowls in fact. The sill's that big it can accommodate three sizeable bowls very well without appearing the least bit encumbered. It's quite pleasant, then, to unpack the pannier bags and arrange everything intently in the bowls upon the sill. Aubergine, squash, asparagus and small vine tomatoes look terribly swish together and it's no surprise at all that anyone would experience a sudden urge at any time during the day to sit down at once and attempt with a palette and brush to convey the exotic patina of such an irrepressible gathering of illustrious vegetables, there on the nice cool windowsill. Pears don't mix well. Pears should always be small and organised nose to tail in a bowl of their very own and perhaps very occasionally introduced to a stem of the freshest red currants, which ought not to be hoisted like a mantle across the freckled belly of the topmost pear, but strewn a little further down so that some of the scarlet berries loll and bask between the slowly shifting gaps. Bananas and oatcakes are by the way a very satisfactory substitute for those mornings when the time for porridge has quite suddenly passed. If a neighbour has been overheard or the towels folded the day's too far in and porridge,

{ 5 } at this point, will feel vertical and oppressive, like a gloomy repast from the underworld. As such, in all likelihood, a submerged stump of resentment will begin to perk up right at the first mouthful and will very likely preside dumbly over the entire day. Until, finally, at around four o'clock, it becomes unfairly but inevitably linked to someone close by, to a particular facet of their behaviour in fact, a perpetually irksome facet that can be readily isolated and enlarged and thereupon pinpointed as the prime cause of this most foreboding sense of resentment, which has been on the rise, inexplicably, all day, since that first mouthful of porridge. Some sort of black jam in the middle of porridge is very? nice, very striking in fact. And then a few flaked almonds.' Be careful though, be very careful with flaked almonds; they are not at all suitable for morose or fainthearted types and shouldn't be flung about like confetti because almonds are not in the least like confetti. On the contrary, flaked almonds ought not to touch one another and should be organised in simple patterns, as on the side of a pavlova, and then they are quite pretty and perfectly innocuous. But shake out a palmful of flaked almonds and you'll see they closely resemble fingernails that have come away from a hand which has just seen the light of day. Black jam and blanched fingernails, slowly sinking into

{ 6 } the oozing burgoo! Lately, in the mornings, Ravel, played several times over, has been a very nice accompaniment indeed. And this, for now, is how, with minor variations, the day begins. My own nails are doing very well as a matter of fact, indeed, I'm not sure they have ever done better. If you must know I painted them in the kitchen last Wednesday after lunch, and the shade I painted them right there in the kitchen is called Highland Mist. Which is a very good name, a very apt name, as it turns out. Because, you see, the natural colour of my nail, both the white part and the pink part, is still just about visible beneath the polish, it hasn't been completely obscured. And as time passes the polish doesn't chip away as such, it just sort of thins out around the edges, so now, as well as being able to see the white part and the pink part, the soot beneath the tips is also clearly visible. There, through the mist, which is of course the colour of heather, I can see coal dust beneath my fingernails. When the nails aren't painted at all this dirt has no other effect be'? sides looking grubby and unkempt, but under the thinning sheen of Highland Mist something further occurs to me when I consider my hands. They look like the hands of someone very charming and refined who has had to dig themselves

{ 7 } up out of some dank and wretched spot they really shouldn't have fallen into. And that amuses me, that really amuses me. Indeed, it wouldn't be entirely unwarranted to suggest that I might, overall, have the appearance and occasionally'emanate the demeanour of someone who grows things. That's to say, I might, from time to time, be considered earthy in its most narrow application. However, truth is, I have propagated very little and possess only a polite curiosity for horticultural endeavours. It's quite true that bright green parsley grows out of a pot near my door but I did not grow it from seed, not at 'all''? I simply bought it already sprouted from a nearby supermarket, turned the plant out its plastic carton and shoved its compacted network of roots and soil here, into the pot next to my door. Prior to that, some years ago, when I lived near the canal, I could plainly see from my bedroom window a most idyllic piece of land, encircled by the gardens of houses in back'to'back streets which thereby rendered it landlocked and enticing. It seemed impossible to get to the garden yet when I tore after a cat early one day he led me directly to it, whereupon he skedaddled sharpish and left me a tortured wren to cradle and fold. The wren had sung above my head for many weeks in the sunshine while I wrote letters in the

{ 8 } morning and so it was only natural for me to cry out when I found it maimed and silent on the moss beneath the privet hedge. I was so upset I wanted to take that cat to a hot pan and sear its foul backside in an explosion of oil. I'll make you hiss you little shit. Never mind. I was in the garden that'nobody owned or imposed upon and now that I had come here once I could come here again, surely. That's how it worked when I was a child anyhow, and I don't suppose these matters change a great deal. I made sly enquiries just as a child does but unfor? tunately in contrast to a child I was listened to rather too attentively and so I quickly devised a wholesome reason for wishing to know who owned the land and whether I might visit it from time to time. It would be a very excellent place to grow things I'm sure I said and despite having never demonstrated any enthusiasm for gardening before and de'? spite my statement of interest being really rather vague my proposition was taken seriously and since it turned out the land was in fact owned by the Catholic Church I was di'? rected to the large house on the corner where the parish priest himself resided. This development was not something I had foreseen, truth be told I'd had no purposeful intentions. I think I just fancied the idea of having a secluded place to stand about in now and then, a secret garden if you

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