I recently went to a Faber social where Joanna Cannon was reading from her new novel, "The Trouble with Goats and Sheep". It was a great evening in a cavern beneath the London streets, filled with bohemian types. There was a brooding intensity that filled the dark corners, and aside from the dim lighting, was probably very similar to such gatherings hundreds of years ago.
The Faber poets were fantastic, poetry is made for performance I think. An unexpected highlight of my evening was listening to Evie Wyld read from one of her novels, and watching her be interviewed. The next day I ordered her second novel, "All the Birds, Singing", because I was curious (she mentioned that in each novel she seeks to strip the language back more and more). I finished reading the book within 24 hours, and today, several days later, I still can't shake the images that she put into my head. It is a stunning piece of writing, a tragic and brutal story, told in a structurally interesting way, leading the reader to unravel Jake's tale slowly and intermittently to its shocking conclusion.
One of the things that I most loved about Evie's writing was that despite paring her language back to the point where the sentences cut right through you, she has sacrificed none of the beauty of language. Her images are sharp and visceral, succinct and precise, but they are there on the page to be read and re-read, repeated and re-imagined afterwards. Sometimes I think the fads that writing goes through can override the exciting possibilities of language. It feels to me that at the moment there is a tendency for writing students to be taught to avoid descriptive language, that in many of the new novels coming out there is a paucity to the style -that in some cases the author has been encouraged to strip back the language like old wallpaper until all that is left is the bare wall; stories driven by plot and action, rushing the reader through from beginning to end.
There is nothing superfluous about Evie's style, every single word justifies its existence on the page, but she paints a multi-layered landscape confidently and sacrifices none of the beauty of it in her telling. Hers is a world I want to re-visit, her stories ones that I want to be told by her. Her debut novel "After the Fire, A Still Small Voice" is waiting on my bedside table.