Review: The Rooms Are Filled – Jessica Null Vealitzek

You have to be ready for Jessica Null Vealitzek’s debut. You have to be ready for the brutal humanity of it, because if the title of the takes lends itself from the biblical proverb, there is no relief from any kind of religious belief.

Starting off in rural Minnesota, Michael and his mother move to Chicago after the death of his father, and as much as young Michael may see his dead father, there is no miracle of him ever coming back. Whilst not filled with people, Minnesota is filled with symbolism, particularly wolves, which sustain with Michael throughout the novel. The ‘Grandmother wolf’ for instance which must be killed in ‘the white and red snow’, as Michael reminisces about a hunting trip he had with his father.

When they move to Ackerman, Chicago, now surrounded by people rather than animals, Michael and his mother Anne, must adapt to this. Anne takes a job at her brother’s diner, and Michael struggles to fit in at school (lone wolf), as he inadvertently challenges the playground hierachies that already exist there. He is then further admonished  when they learn he is adopted. All this happens early on, along with a miscarriage; a lot of the early pages you do find yourself just wishing these people could get a break. Regardless, the school does unite the two central story arcs, that of Julia Parnell’s and Michael’s. We’re first introduced to Julia in alternate chapters, which at first appear as a series of  letters to a woman called Rose.

Typically, these two outcasts begin to forge a relationship. The teacher – loner pupil relationship is not new, but the story that Vealitzek renders it as is something original, because Julia’s sexuality and begins to take precedent in the novel’s events. They’re not just outcasts in a new town; they are outcasts when the eighties AIDS paranoia in swirling around them. Although Michael is not gay, or  as far as we know is not, people see his adoption as a reason for him being homosexual.

Michael does make one acquaintance in Tina, a neighbour. She is worldly, and beyond her years, frustrated by Michael’s naivety and innocence, which irritated me as well at times.  Tina , the ‘whatever’ saying pre-teen girl with a greater understanding of sex (another example i reviewed in Andrew Lovett’s novel, last year) she is not entirely original. But she asks more questions about the conflicts of sexuality and introduces one of the most interesting characters in the book, her father, Jim. He is a self-congratulatory, violent mysoginist with authoritarian  power, or as Vealitzek wryly describes him, ‘a man’s man’, and his ego takes a beating when his advances on Julia are spurned.

On that note psychoanalysts might take some pleasure (ho-ho!) from their interpretation of Vealitzek’s work. A key moment, specifically related to Jim, but encapsulates the novel’s main themes, is when he is on his last job in Milwaukee, before he also moved to Ackerman. Jim is sent out to a neighborhood area because of a noise complaint. There he encounters,

“Masked faces appeared, whirling about him as he stepped inside…The masks laughed at him as they rushed by, Frankenstein, John Wayne, Ronald Regan. As his eyes adjusted, Jim noticed the people, male and female, were naked.

This idea of masks and, indeed being a character is something that troubles all of the characters  and challenges the modern notion of whether a mask really is hiding something, or rather if we’re always  masking ourselves, just changing and shifting person over times and instances, particularly here with the key debate of sexuality. Look at the characters of Julia and Rose, with Julia acting as the straight–laced teacher, but finds herself struggling to act as ‘what she really is’, that horrible phrase that to indicate there is some kind of essential truth about us. What she is, is a homosexual, but that is precisely what she also not is. She wants to be accepted as a homosexual but not defined by it. It is that essential truth that people see as justifications for vilification. To be what she really is would be to signify her exclusion as an outcast from society. Although set in the eighties, even now in our apparently free and modern times, there is still loathsome opposition to gay people, with the old orders reproducing archaic, old arguments.

The above episode is not over for Jim when his remembers,

he turned to step outside and call for backup, but a hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him around. Marilyn Monroe pouted back at him inches from his face,and her painted fingers rubbed his chest. Another body closed the door behind him and pushed up against his backside, hands sliding down his waist. He felt a stirring as Marilyn’s fingers brushed down, down, down until they played on his lower adbomen…that’s when Jim saw that Marilyn was a man’

This seems to ignite and explain his projectile rage throughout the rest of novel and his masochistic quest. Vealitzek may be making a pertinent comment about the authorities and the reaffirmations of status quo, but it’s also about man, he is a man’s man.

Vealitzek is playing with the greater themes whilst remaining hands length away; feminist/criticism of the rigidity of authority and power/ sexuality, but producing a story to go with it, which i’m sure people will be happy to read without the subtexts.  Some of the character’s are slightly overused stocks, and some of the phrasing skirts cliché and the overly hyperbole; a plate for instance ‘smashes into a hundred pieces’. Does it really? And you can imagine the kind of typical rage and frustration that led to that. And as already mentioned, Michael, who witnesses several early trauma’s remains ridiculously composed throughout the novel, and it’s no wonder Tina get’s frustrated with him. There is also quite a bit of reminiscing that serves as exposition. But, there is still plenty to take away from The Rooms Are Filled.

The Rooms Are Filled by Jessica Null Vealitzek is out now published by She Writes Press. Thanks to them for providing a review copy.

Everlasting Lane: A Review.

How a child constructs narrative of their lives is a hotbed for developmental psychologists, but in the literary sense Andrew Lovett gives us a curious example of storytelling and narration.

Lovett gives us clues as to what he is letting the reader in for with the first part of the book titled ‘A Game of the Imagination’. What ensues is a game; a game constructed by the narrator “I was nine years old the night my father died. Or ten. I don’t remember”, and these are the rules. His father is dead, and he is one of those ages, but that little ounce of doubt or question sets the tone for the rest of the story. And story is the operative word; a part mystery and part bildungsromman as Peter must come to terms with his father’s death, the mystery identity of ‘Alice’ and his own identity. Adding to this it is quoted by Lovett that it is partly based on his childhood which adds the sense of Lovett reconstructing that childhood adding more doubt and unreliability into the equation.

Peter’s mother decides to take her and Peter back to Amberley; a place where she apparently grew up in, that Peter has faint memories of. Peter’s mother also now becomes Aunt Kat with a ‘K’ that Peter at first struggles to comprehend. Anna-Marie Liddell, a resident of Amberley soon becomes a sidekick, or more so, Peter becomes the sidekick of the brazen and remarkably articulate girl. Their relationship constantly intrigues and something about it never seems to be realised. Her dominance over the male figure extends once Tommie starts to make up this triumvirate.

Their activities centre around a conspicuously named street, also lending itself to the title of the novel, Everlasting Lane. Despite claiming to be centred around Lovett’s childhood experiences, the name Everlasting Lane was surely intentionally and poetically named. Not necessarily the central metaphor for the characters choices they are required to make ( the predictable two paths they must choose to go down, left or right, does happen). There seems to be an underlying quest to get to the end of it, which they don’t seem to be able to do.

Behind the facade of sweetness and innocence, Peter’s unreliability is a devilishly brilliant piece of narrative device. This is not to say he is corruptibility bad in any way, but like behind the sepia tinge of a Polaroid photo lies the reality of being a child. The unnoticed and noticed dilemma’s, moral choices when you don’t even realise as moral and the mastery of an imagination; when to infer from reality and the need to lose all reality. When the mystery of trying to find out who Alice is, like an adult Enid Blyton Famous Five escapade, Peter’s world is full of narrative and fiction blurring his reality. Peter constantly visualises  that moment of been half awake and half asleep as “Half-awake, half-asleep. ‘what is it? Like the moon: half sunlight, half midnight. All moon” like this splits his worlds. Still early in the novel, Peter then looks at the sun on the way back from Everlasting Lane “I felt as if i’d woken in one world and crossed into another and never even noticed the two meeting at the border”.

As a result, his worlds (worlds that he has ultimately constructed) become mixed up. Peter’s actions suddenly become embellished in famous fictional worlds but he still is controlling with constant references to famous fictional characters (Robin Hood and Columbo to name an eclectic two). If stabilising his imagination which the story is essentially reliant on – Peters imagination – emphasised when Peter looks at the tree’s and the physical world “There was something frightful about those woods: but it wasn’t the trees, threatening though they were. It was the shadows squeezed between them.” Peter goes onto to describe himself stumbling over the branches like ‘Frank Spencer’. But regardless of that irony, it is not the physical objects Peter is scared of, the trees which Anna-Marie warns to him as being ‘vicious’, but the non-physical elements – the shadows that the physical world creates. Peter’s fears, as if in a Freudian sense, what leaks through. Those shadows could be made to be anything at the power of his imagination.

With moments of bathos, and pathos in equal measure Peter continues to operate behind a veneer of naivety. War and death ultimately overhangs the whole novel with the death of Peter’s father and the games that Peter likes to play. Peter manages to construct a rather vivid scenario of a war game with Tommie, complete with other characters and dialogue
“Tommie and I had long suspected that Monsier Merdeux was nothing but a Nazi stooge and whilst we knew that Marianne was both brave and resourceful (and resourceful and brave) we had sworn to prevent her from walking into a fiendish –
‘What the hell are you doing?’ inquired Mademoiselle Le Dell In flawless English ‘Creeping up on me!’”.
Mademoiselle Le Dell transpires to be Anna-Marie, and their game descends into a genuine fight between Tommie and Peter. There seems to be a fine line between war as fun and war as war, shown here where they actually begin to physically fight, and the ever increasing want of the child to have a mastery of that adult world, because war is where they get their heroes and villains from which in turn informs their actions.

With Peter being ten years old, language plays a big part in the novel. Peter seems to have a grasp of an internal language ‘And yet, something of them remains, for sometimes when i’m drying I think i’m awake; and although my eyes are closed I believe them open’ and then in relaying his thoughts to Anna-Marie ‘The best I could was a kind of grunt.’ This dialectic between the inner and the outer language, like the Wittgenstein maxim of ‘the limits of my language are the limits of my world.’ is one of many dichotomies. Peter is in a world of people who have a greater mastery of language over him, and thanks to some interesting cameos from the many adult figures in his world (interestingly a lack of individual children apart from him, Anna-Marie and Tommie, and even Tommie comes across as an one dimensional) who shape Peter’s world. Two interesting cases exist in the form of Mr Merridrew and Mrs Carpenter.

Mr Merridrew is the Dawkins type figure of evolutionary reductionism, “In brief, although the concepts certainly exist there are no such things as good or bad in a Godless universe. There are merely shades of moral ambiguity…He looked at me, his eyes cold dark craters ‘You are so cock-sure that you are right and I am wrong, yet without God neither even exists. There is only chaos.” The antithesis of him, Mrs Carpenter, the domineering head teacher inspired with Christian doctrine, an evangelical who uses religion as a means of scaremongering children into order. In a fierce reprimanding for Anna-Marie “Your destination is not in doubt. I am confident’ she spluttered, fingering the crisp stitching of the leather strap, ‘that Lucifer is already sharpening his pitchfork” because without apparent faith as the religious like to tell us, “How can you live, child? Spluttered Mrs Carpenter. ‘How can you bear a life so…devoid of meaning?’” No wonder Peter and Anna-Marie struggle to make sense of this world. Narrative guides our lives, and we proscribe narrative to our life events but Mrs Carpenter represents the problems with religious narrative as a form of social order and why it deserves to fail as such

These dichotomies, plus the other characters thoughts and ways leave Peter in a kind of an abyss. With WWII what emerged was a world of extremes, and it essentially comes down to the relation between Lovett and Peter, like in a Spinozan kind of dualism. The narration allows Lovett to get away with things that wouldn’t have worked in third person, like using the abhorrent word ‘guesstimate’ which also might be an example of anachronism in the text.

At the other end of the novel Alice in Wonderland seems to inform the text. The unreliability of Peter comes to a head as the world he is constructing for the reader takes on an edge that I didn’t think was fully convicted and Lovett backed out of – almost a failed twist. There is also a lot of moralising. As Peter continually tries to make sense of the world, there are a lot of conversations that use lots of similes and metaphors to conceptualise the world for Peter, that do become slightly tiresome. I also didn’t particularly get the ending.

However it should not detract from a very good piece of fiction, handled with maturity and precision and another addition to the intriguing roster of Galley Beggar Press. The world is chaos, and as Everlasting Lane shows us, narrative and fiction helps us to add order to this chaos especially in the developing mind of a child. It keeps our brimming worlds in order, as long as we keep a foot In the real world. This is Peter’s world, and it is his world that you enter, finally,  on his terms.

Everlasting Lane by Andrew Lovett, published by Galley Beggar Press is out now (£11). Thank you to them for providing a review copy.

Sketcher, a review.

Jean Piaget’s influence in understanding childhood development is almost unparalleled in the 20th century, besides the work of Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky. Amongst other things, he argued that a child’s drawing was reflective of their cognitive development. This, for Piaget did not necessarily mean that it was a distinct stage of development, but rather, an insight into the child’s development. When the child gets to the age of 9, their drawing is based on what they see, as opposed to what they know, so where they know that a cube has six faces, they realise that they do not have to draw all six sides of the cube for it to be a realistic depiction (Intellectual realism and visual realism). So, when Skid Beaumont’s brother Frico has the ability to realise what he puts on paper in real life, what would Piaget make of it?

Roland Watson-Grant’s energetic and deceptively deep novel about Skid Beaumont and his life in a New Orleans swamp is an original approach to failure of an American Dream. Alfrico, Skid’s father, has a drunken vision that on the back of the explosion in construction in New Orleans, that his family should live in the swamp on the promise that the city will come to them, landing a potential windfall for the Beaumont’s. Needless to say this doesn’t happen and they find themselves living in this wasteland next to the world of money and dream making. It is a ‘crack on the map where the construction just stops’ and New Orleans tantalisingly remains on the horizon, always in vision but never fully reachable, Skid observes ‘New O’lins was blazin’ and throbbin’.

The swamp lays a good base for Watson-Grant to develop his story. This basic level of life, almost squalid, contrasts starkly with the America they would have us recognise. There is also an unfortunate level of contemporariness with the New Orleans of today, thanks to the devastating effects of hurricane Katrina. As the city imposes, physically and metaphorically what does it represent? Does it represent salvation, or as Valerie Beaumont, Skid’s mother says “we’re all refugee’s, we’re all running away from something”. Watson-Grant shows quite emphatically that there is another way to life, and just because we’re not living it the way everybody else seems to be, there is a beautiful essence to swamp life,exaggerated by fakeness of the city dwellers. Tourists are described as ‘coming to take pictures of the advertising’ which ironically challenges the artistic strand that permeates through the rest of the novel.

Life’s natural beauty is emphasised by the magical realism employed. It is a device successfully and acutely employed. Skid becomes aware of his brother’s drawings to become reality,
“I saw Frico sketch on paper with his left hand…and he made some strange things happen. It had been a while, but deep down I knew what I saw. That boy was more than artistic. He had somethin’ in his left hand…a strange power to fix things with a pencil”.
It slowly emerges that the Beaumont family does not have a conventional history. If anything the word conventional is mocked incessantly throughout the novel; the family, the house, the heritage, even the novel, nothing is conventional about it. Skid’s grandpa, whom he shares a strong bond with once his father goes absent, reveals gradually to Skid about his family’s past on the island of San Tainos. Watson-Grant doesn’t say too much about this fictional island, but it potentially might be an allegory of Jamaica, “your moms was born In one of the prettiest places on earth, the gods made that place special”. Along with this and some other elusive details about a volcano, which Skid recreates in what appears to be a therapist session there is not too much mention of it. Either way, this was where the Beaumont family were raised and where their magical powers may have derived from. It will be interesting to see if Watson-Grant develops this in later novels, as one instantly thinks of Bogata in Marquez’, 100 Year’s of Solitude, arguably the first commercially successful magical realist writer (if not the best, or Atwood’s Quebec even).

So it comes to the Sketcher, Frico Beaumont. Watson-Grant chooses not to belie this special power in Skid which could be down to several reasons. This allows Skid, the seemingly only ‘normal’ Beaumont to try and manipulate these power to his own ends. The experience of the capitalist world through the city inevitably see’s Skid try and exploit Frico for money. Nothing too sinful mind. Furthermore, seeing this through Skid’s first person account we are given his naivety. Watson-Grant keeps the reader guessing if it is genuine magic, or if it is just Skid’s perception, because Skid has no power in manipulating it. Maybe Skid doesn’t like to accept coincidence and takes Pa Campbell’s stories too seriously like a naïve child. We can be sure that the Beaumont’s have a magical heritage but can never be fully as we taken along in Skid’s ride. Yann Martel’s Life of Pi demonstrated the power of the strength and ambiguity of the child narrator and there are notes of resonance with that fabulist tale.

At an even greater level though, religion permeates the novel, or less dogmatically – belief. Does religion and faith offer a magical realist aspect to our lives? We are obsessed with narrative, everything we do has one, and religion arguably adds a greater plot line to it. Skid rejects coincidence through accepting the drawings and his mother’s conjuring, and while it is acceptable to accept this in a novelistic format we cannot accept it in real life. It works so effectively with the naïve child narrator and the squalor of the swamp and dreams of the city.

Skid who has no apparent magical powers, maybe to emphasise his normality. He beholds the power as the narrator. I must admit I was very sceptical on receiving the review copy from Alma. With the child narrator and Watson-Grant choosing to represent the text in Skid’s ‘New O’lins’ dialect, as you can tell, it works. Watson- Grant’s prose refrains from overloading it with adjectives, but it still provides some moments of poetry.There are some aspects that for me didn’t work though, like when Skid says ‘Freeze Frame’ as if stopping the story to digress, but instead looks like his own failed attempts at magic and maybe it is.Some of the family’s history tries to resurface at the end of the novel in ambiguous forms which were too obviously subtle – definitely happening, but you do not know if they were resurfacings of the Beaumont’s past . The two greatest risks work though – the magical realism and the deep south dialect. The novel  will satisfy sceptics of fabulist writing and atheists alike, and we anticipate Watson-Grant’s next move. Even the swamp becomes a cherished aspect, and you begin to hope for it later in the novel.

And so, we return to Piaget and the intellectual muscle flexing at the start. Is Frico drawing what he knows or the more advanced what he sees? If Frico was to be drawing what he sees then Skid is clearly unawares to the potential beauty of life, and who could blame him, when the bubble of your dream pops. Despite Piaget’s theory being too centred on the individual (Vygotsky for me was the far greater advocate of childhood development) Skid’s own account is a great claim for the joy of youth – its ambition, naivety and unrelenting hope for things to get better. And like Martel’s enormously successful book, the power of story telling.

Sketcher by Roland Watson-Grant (pp.279) is published by Alma Books and is out now priced at RRP £12.99

Piaget documented his findings on childhood drawing in The Child’s Conceptions of Space (1956 New York:Macmillan) but there are hundreds of sources on this.

The Spinning Heart, a review

The recession and global banking crisis’ implications on collective and individual psychology is a a source of great intrigue for any person interested in understanding people. The novelist perhaps is such a person. Then there will be those who exploit the narrative, turn it in into ideology  merely for its gains like the politicians, those who were largely unaffected by it. Donald Ryan portrays a sympathetic and original account in his début of the ramifications of a global banking crisis and ‘Celtic Tiger’ of Ireland. This was the period of the economy when which had a rapid growth until 2008 it severely reversed and was plunged into the hard times we know now.

Already tipped for big things, having being inducted into the Waterstones Eleven for 2013, Donal Ryan presents 21 different characters, in little over 150 pages, each effectively doing a monologue. It becomes clear after the first two or three characters stories that these are not short stories. They’re not even the eponymous named ‘overlapping’ short stories, as each characters story slowly constructs, a narrative, through doing so, a community. The central plot slowly burns away in the background as Ryan’s characters take centre stage with their unique voices, as they tell their story, the story of their community and at large, the story of the recession.

The first character, Bobby Mahon, slowly leaks that part of the building company that is responsible for this half built housing estate which is the setting of the novel. The contractors ran out of money and credit, and there was no money to finish the construction. Quite disorientingly at first, he mentions other builders and employee’s of the company, who appear at different points, and sometimes don’t appear at all to tell their story. One such character who constantly referred to is Pokey Burke who fled with all the remaining money of the company when things started to go awry, who elusively and teasingly never speaks himself.

Despite Bobbycoming across as a street savvy, local hero, he and the other builders were hideously naïve in the good times “I should have known something was up the day last year Mickey Briars came in asking about his pension” and the illegitimacy of Pokey’s company becomes prevalent:  “PRSI. PAYE. Income levy, pension. She held it in front of her with her nose wrinkled up like I was after wiping my armpit with it. Well? I said. Well What? Whats the story?There’s no story sir . I wasn’t on the computer as an employee of Pokey Burke or anyone else”.
It is this kind of local level that that Ryan makes his grand statement about the economic downturn (downturn seems such a limp, understated term in this sense; Celtic Tiger – just ridiculous) like the negligence, and ignorance of Pokey Burke. Kate believes “you don’t have to pay minimum wage in a recession”, and Realtin says the housing estate is ”just the ghosts of people never existed”.

There is the overriding sense people being trapped in this, and for some this feeling is more explicit and admitting than others. Ryan, displaying his versatility at manipulating the language of other characters uses,  Vasya a Russian immigrant, who presumably came to Ireland for opportunity, describes the horizon as ‘close and small’. In this way Ryan shows language as a key determiner of characterisation down to Vasya speaking sentences of ‘two words or three’.

The physical boundaries are also emphasised by Bridie, who reminisces of her child drowning in the sea, “the greedy Atlantic swallowed him”. This is an Island.  Bridie introduces a feeling of segregation and abandonment who’s horizon is also limited ‘I always swore i’d never again set foot in County Clare. I don’t even like to to look across at east Clare from the low shore at Castlelough’. The ultimate abandonment is of course the housing project.

Like Bobby Mahon reappears and seems to float through the lives of the other characters, his plot line central to the others, so do the metaphors and themes he introduces. The title of the novel is taken from the gate to his father’s cottage,
“Red metal heart in the centre of the low front gate, skewered on a rotating hinge. Its flaking now; the red is nearly gone. It needs to be scraped and sanded and painted and oiled. It still spins in the wind, though. I can hear it creak, creak as I walk away. A flaking, creaking, spinning”
From the first page this piece of the gate and entrance to the house, the heart the is thing that causes problems are is caused problems. The characters seem to be fixated with the heart, its problems as if puzzled by its physical anatomy, unable to understand as if it should be capable of more. Timmy recognises something wrong with somebody’s heart, and in his naïve voice claims ‘it just stopped beating’, or the weird, unsettling Trevor who claims that one day his heart ‘will just stop dead’. In each case that the heart occurs it seems to be faulty. Ryan’s realism appears to be challenging the cliché of the heart, this source of apparent love as a cliché implies. Where has the heart gone in society? Was the romance of life ripped from the community in the financial crisis if that is what the heart is mean to mean: localism and community values destroyed, the individual fighting for his own individual sense. After all this, the heart seems nothing apart from a biological transportation system, keeping us alive with its incessant thudding.

If the heart is not the source of love, where is it then? Brian maybe provides the answer ‘Love is a physical mechanism that ensures humanity’s survival. It’s an abstract concept as well, for people to write songs and books and make films abut. Either way, it’s nothing but a construct’. A construct indeed both physical and metaphysical.

If the source of love is then the family then Ryan makes us rethink this. From the moment Bobby goes round to his Dad’s everyday wishing he was dead (“and everyday he let me down”), absent and imperfect fathers are everywhere. The family is never conventional. Bridie has different children to different fathers, or Trevor who has visions of kidnapping a child rather than visions of producing a family himself. Seanie’s womanising may suggest how the failing of the family is the failing of the community. Maybe it is just a problem with men – with the world run by men, they’re the only ones who seem to be able to change circumstances in The Spinning Heart, and usually do a poor job of it.

Ryan lets rumour circulate, as each character opens up, they reveal themselves and more about other people. With each person, the reader seems to carry with them what he already knows.There is a moment when Trevor talks of himself painting somebodies windows for a favour, and amidst his troubling, unsettling thoughts appears to be a nod from Joyce’s, Dubliners in the continual image of people looking through windows. Throughout Joyce’s stories we’re either looking through the window or watching the characters look through the window and this seems to be happening throughout Ryan’s work.

This idea of a construct though, Ryan is hinting at something greater. Returning to  the immigrant Vasya who can ‘only speak in sentences of two or three words’: Is his horizon restricted by his language capacity? The language of the character is key to their depiction. Some express heavier dialect than others, interspersing expletives and Irish patter. And there is Timmy, who is presumably a child because of his colloquialisms. Rumour and gossip is hinged on language and as each character present them self, their individual stories cohere to construct this community and all of its ideas.

Ryan’s novel is something remarkable. He mostly avoids clumsily intruding his character’s conscience, as his conscience over pins all 21 of the characters. In another medium, it evokes Alan Bennett’s Talking Head’s series, and you can see some form of adaptation in this. There are moments when the depths of language are explored counteracted by moments of poetry and lyricism. The Spinning Heart is something to read, and then read again, In a different order maybe. Ireland, steeped in literary heritage, and although it may be early days, here is an exciting new voice in its heritage.

The Spinning Heart is published by Doubleday Ireland/Transworld and is out 27 June 2013 this year. Thank you to them for providing a review copy.