Pond (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Claire-Louise Bennett’s debut novel captures our attention in whispers more than it does with bells or whistles. It’s not a “loud” novel. It doesn’t explain or announce itself. What action there is, is retold from the distance that memory provides—a distance bridged by way of second-guesses and digressions. Pond is the expression of a wry, melancholic voice, as serious as it is funny, strange yet so very familiar. Readers will rush to find suitable comparisons—mine was Samuel Beckett—but Bennett successfully squirms away at every turn, and achieves something singularly her own. It is a delight being relocated into the rural headspace of Bennett’s unnamed narrator, where the stuff of the everyday gets the attention it deserves. -- Brad

— From October 2016

July 2016 Indie Next List

“A brilliant and captivating debut, Bennett's Pond is a strange, beautifully layered work of fiction, from its quirky and contemplative narrator's interior life to the vivid and charming descriptions of rural Irish life. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this book is its warm invitation to celebrate solitude. Bennett writes as if in a lush, landscaped dream, each story chapter going forward, circling back, and ending in the middle of the protagonist's musings upon her everyday experiences. Pond is utterly original, by turns hilarious and poignant, a refreshing and simply delightful read.”
— Angela Spring (E), Politics & Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, DC


"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.

About the Author

Claire-Louise Bennett's short fiction and essays have been published in The Moth, The Irish Times, and other publications. She was awarded the inaugural White Review Short Story Prize in 2013. Pond is her first book. Bennett lives in Galway, Ireland.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780399575891
ISBN-10: 0399575898
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: July 12th, 2016
Pages: 208
Language: English