Named a Best Book of the Year by Publisher's Weekly Shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize "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.
"[An] auspicious debut ... You swim through this novel as you do through a lake in midsummer, pushing through both warm eddies and the occasional surprisingly chilly draft from below. ... Bennett seems to know exactly what to take seriously. She puts us inside a complicated, teeming mind, and she doesn't dabble in forced epiphanies. ...There's some James Joyce in the wordy, cerebral rush of her sentences. ...Yet Pond is rarely murky and never pretentious. ... Sometimes first novels like Pond are one-offs. They deliver a voice the author can't tap again. Ms. Bennett's sensibility here feels like the tip of a deep iceberg, and I'll be in line to read whatever she publishes next. Her witty misanthropy is here to ward off mental scurvy." -The New York Times "A sharp, funny, and eccentric debut ... one of those books so odd and vivid they make your own life feel strangely remote. Somehow, Bennett has written a fantasy novel for grownups that is a kind of extended case for living an existence that threatens to slip out of tune. Such a life, Bennett suggests, is more actual than list-laden, ego-driven, 'successful' adulthoods. ... The stories in Pond amount to a kind of manifesto insisting we are missing the very point of our lives. Adulthood's melancholy, its losses, its scars, are its most meaningful elements, they seem to suggest. ... Pond , which can be mordantly funny, is haunted by a feeling of semi-tragedy, a quality of loss that's hard to put one's finger on. ... Pond makes the case for Bennett as an innovative writer of real talent. ... [It]reminds us that small things have great depths." -The New York Times Book Review "A work of fiction that will make you feel pleasantly insane...What moves the reader forward is the sense the stories convey of a real-time psychological fabric: the reader experiences the narrator's world at the same pace she does, a thing chopped up into irregular units organized by vague questions and obscurely colored moods. Like Lydia Davis, Bennett...takes a state of mind closely associated with madness and places it in settings that are utterly domestic, mundane. The result is fervid and fearful; at times, "Pond" recalls works by Knut Hamsun and Samuel Beckett... At other points, the book evokes the cottage hymns of Katharine Tynan, the pure formal eccentricity of Emily Dickinson, and the dread-laced, detonating uncertainty of W. B. Yeats. It is also funny...unnerving... sensitive to the point of being porous...lucid, practical, and excruciatingly cognizant of what is normal." -The New Yorker "Dazzling...[an] exquisitely written and daring debut work of fiction... Pond' s lovely strangeness lies in just how intimate we feel with our heroine despite knowing so little about her. By eschewing exposition, Bennett's novel demonstrates the elucidating power of simply recording a consciousness at work, a state of being - a "mind in motion." - O, the Oprah Magazine "[T]his Woolfian novella will challenge all your ideas of narrative. Dreamlike fragments of a life drift in and out of frame, with startling prose that will make your usual perspective feel like sleepwalking." - Elle "Bennett's prose-ardent, addictively obsessive-compulsive, a little feral-is from another galaxy, or maybe another century. Her delight in nature and gardening can be kookily romantic...and yet one could also imagine her taking an improbably cheerful seat among the modernists...A man alone is a visionary; a woman alone is a witch-or worse, Bridget Jones. But Bennett spins something entirely different from her separateness, a kind of philosophy of being in the world as a writer both refreshing and hard-won." - Vogue "Innovative, beguiling...meditative...a fresh new voice from seemingly out of nowhere...Reading Bennett's book of loosely linked stories is a lovely retreat from the cacophony of contemporary life...wryly intelligent...quirky...[and] brightly original." -Los Angeles Times "[A] smart, funny, ellipt