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Everything I Found on the Beach
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Everything I Found on the Beach

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  42 reviews
A dark tale of slavery, immigration, and murder set on the west coast of Wales, this is a startling portrait of three ordinary lives taken to extremes. In the aching cold where night bumps into day, Hold hears noisesconfirming he isn't alone.At the edge of his nets, a rudderless dingythumps against the rocks, prey to the ebbing tide. What he finds there changes everything. ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Parthian Books (first published 2011)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2018
Cynan Jones is a talented young Welsh writer and this is the second of his books I have read after The Dig. Once again, this is spare, bleak, poetic and visceral, and once again he is inhabiting the minds of people on the borders of society facing elemental struggles.

The book opens with a body being found on the beach, with wounds that suggest foul play, but we only discover its significance much later in the book.

The two main characters are Grzegorz, a Polish immigrant who works in an abattoir
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very atmospheric tale about chances in life. Making decisions and what's following once a decision has been made. It's also about guilt and love unanswered because it seems impossible.
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
In his introvert style cynan jones tells this tale of brutality with much compassion for the main character. There is suggested more than explicitly spoken of the naivity of this man, his love for his family, the duality to do well but being attracted by what he finds on the beach. He decides to introduce himself in a world he does not know with fatal implications. Everything is suggested more than told explicitly; one has to guess much of what happens between the lines. Like in the Dig Cynan ...more
another amazing read. another favorite of the year.

review to come
Doug H - On Hiatus
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant writer at work in the grand tradition. Steinbeck and Hemingway seem influential, but his voice is truly unique. He takes you up close to the smallest of details and explores large universal themes in the process. The struggles of a beetle and a pigeon are as important as those of the humans in this dark novel. The reader is forced to struggle at times too. Very effective!
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is the 4th book I have read by Cynan Jones. I'm not sure I can read any more books by this person. His novels are so so sad and depressing..The Long Dry, The Dig, and Cove. And then this book. Pretty much everybody dies in the end. Every character has a relative who has died some sad death. His descriptions of food, of ferry boats, of bugs, of pigeons, etc. etc. were so long winded...and yes, also so sad. It got to the point I was just skimming pages to see how things ended. There was one ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
That was amazing! Jones' writing reminded me of Annie Proulx or Cormac McCarthy. He captured the very essence of what it is to be poor and unable to get out from under. To have the circumstances of your life keep you from doing any better than those before you. He captured this so well that I had to take breaks every few pages to keep from crying. I always read Annie Proulx this way especially. It hurts the heart. By the same token, it makes you count the blessings you have.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I explain my emotional response to this book it will likely give up the ending, so I’ll refrain. This is a story about people who are neither here nor there. The in between place of leaving something terrible behind, not finding much traction to change this, and living on hope for one big chance. Grzegorz is a Polish immigrant desperate with longing to provide for his family. Desperate enough to do most anything, to cross boundaries no longer useful in his internal demand for a chance. Hold ...more
Joachim Stoop
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Jones doesn't reach the same balance between show and tell, scarcity and richness as in his Cove and his The longest dry.
Justin Griffiths-Bell
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What I love about Cynan Jones’s writing is the way all his characters experience existence, not merely the main figures, but all of them. There are no caricatures in his work. Each is permitted his or her own store of dignity and motive force. All are fragments of some lost and broken force and each is afforded a spirit and a share in humanity. It’s something that’s very much in accord with the strong moral thrust of his work. When I started reading this novel, I’d positioned Jones a sort of ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read but ultimately too heavy handed. Every sentence seemed to be triple underlining that the story was going to have an unhappy ending. Lots of, the bird was trapped, if it had made one choice differently in its life it would have been free, but once it was on the path it was trapped, in a net, etc.
Beth Lind
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
A harsh reality lyrically laid out in a manner that reminded me of No Country for Old Men. Two men, their story told in alternating chapters, desperate and willing to take a chance just to make it, to prove something to those whom they love.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Compelling stuff - a body found on a beach and then its back story. Desperate people abraded by the physical work they do and getting involved with drug runners and gangsters. The tension is almost unbearable at times. Jones' writing is tight and beautiful: I called him the Welsh Cormac McCarthy in my review of The Dig - this is further confirmation (although I think this was written earlier).
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hemingway fans
Shelves: first-reads
This is not a book for the faint-hearted. There were many times I wanted to put it in the freezer. It's pretty obvious from the beginning that things are not going to go well for Grzegorz, a Polish immigrant who is enslaved by poverty, as he ruminates about wastefulness he sees in the slaughterhouse where he works. "'This gratefulness to an animal,' he thought, 'is what's gone here. There is a sorrow for it, as there always is, but it is without gratefulness and eventually you just go numb to ...more
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is Cynan's second book and it is nothing short of brilliant. The talent shown in The Long Dry develops further in this book as we follow two men that come from very different lives yet are strangely similiar. First we meet Hold, a Welsh fisherman who is struggling to make ends meet, raising another's son, as he discovers a body on the beach that holds a possible way to make life a little easier. Then we meet Grzegorz, a Polish immigrant who shares a house with his own family and that of ...more
Cynthia Egbert
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Well. I knew it would be bleak, that is Cynan Jones calling card, but it was even more bleak than I expected. I am spent. Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Jean Valjean had gotten away with the silver he stole from the Bishop without being caught and redeemed? Well, read this book and you will get a sense of exactly that. But even though it broke my heart, the writing is superb, not as good as Hugo and not quite as good as The Long Dry, but close. I cannot recommend this one ...more
A book about responsibility... that sounds a whole heap of fun doesn't it? And indeed, Everything I Found on the Beach isn't any part of a heap of fun. Cynan Jones has however created two compelling characters in Hold, the native fisherman burdened with responsibilities from a young age so that he knows no other way, and Grzegorz the Polish migrant also weighed down with responsibilities he choses to shoulder. These two men are kindred spirits - they have a similar grave manner and respect for ...more
Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Bleak. So bleak.

I've been debating what rating to give this book for the last few days since I finished it (and it has 229 pages and not 200 as Goodreads seems to think) and I think I have to go for a 3 instead of a 4, though I would rather go with a 3.5 if I could. I really enjoyed the writing and the story caught me early on. However the ending (two fold, with the ending to Hold's story and then the Big Man and Stringer's story) left me feeling very empty.

The story hinges around men trying to
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved Cynan Jones' "The Dig" so when Coffee House announced its US release of this novel, I immediately pre-ordered it. Sadly, this was a bit of a let down. I thought this book was just OK. It seemed to lack the focus and psychological complexity that I had come to expect from Jones' work. Despite its more recent release in the US, this work is actually earlier than "The Dig," so his craft seems to be improving.

With this novel, at times the writing got a bit tedious and too drawn out with
Stacie Cregg
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book in March through Goodreads First Reads.

I wanted to like this book. I really, really wanted to like it. It tells a story of men -- immigrants, drug mules, and a seemingly regular guy trying to do right by his friend's widow and son -- who are driven by money, or the lack of it. The writing is mostly good, lyrical and poetic, with a few parts that run on confused me, and the story is poignant, but doesn't flow easily, and, at times, didn't hold my attention; I feel like it's all
Pat Pujolas
Very good indie press but not great, let alone "brilliant" as many reviewers have noted. There are some fine moments and riveting details here; but the prose is so forced/stylized, it's hard not to ridicule it afterward. Because not a paragraph goes by where you won't encounter "some great thing" or "some ancient sense" or "insert garbage simile here." As for characterization, there's really only one voice, and it sounds like this: "If I had one chance," he told himself. "If just one chance came ...more
Juan Grana
Jan 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Not as good as his other books - especially The Dig.
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Feel exhausted and thrilled at the same time - brave writing that doesn't pander to the reader, and a haunting ending. Why haven't we heard of this guy!!
Jerry Peace
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Disappointed. The first half is great-taut, beautifully written. But the second half reads like a burst balloon; it just goes everywhere. Plus I really hate dream sequences.
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novellas
Another fine book from one of my favourite writers. The prose is not quite as lean as in The Dig or The Long Dry which remain his masterworks for me but everything else is in place.

The full reality of living inside a man's head, several different men, is unerringly evoked, despite many an unuttered thought or poorly understood emotion on their part. Female characters get less space, as always but this isn't a criticism as such since the light touches offered feel genuine and are often
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was so good on so many levels. It is a really good 'what will happen next' page turner. It raises questions of 'what if' for several of the characters and explores how people in tight situations might be tempted to make choices that they might otherwise not; and the possible consequences of those decisions. In this way it is a very thought provoking novel. The prose is intense and detailed and skilfully adds to the tensions the characters experience.
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
I only have one word for this book. Boring.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Nihilism - no relief at all - very dark
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Gripping story, but how many filler lines can one put into one book? Would have worked much better as a novella.
David Hebblethwaite
Apr 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Hold is a Welsh fisherman, trying his best to help out Cara and Jake, the widow and son of his late friend Danny. The chance discovery of a body on the shore presents him with a risky opportunity, for the dead man was carrying packages of drugs; Hold decides to go ahead and deliver them, so he can use the money for Jake’s and Cara’s benefit. Alongside Hold’s story, we read of Grzegorz, a Polish man who came to Britain hoping to improve his lot, but now stuck working in a slaughterhouse and ...more
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Cynan Jones lives and works near Aberaeron on the west coast of Wales.

His first novel, 'The Long Dry', won a 2007 Betty Trask Award and led to his nomination as the Hay Festival Scritture Giovani Fellow in 2008.

His second novel 'Everything I Found on the Beach' was published by Parthian in 2011.

Both books were re-released by Granta in Summer 2014, in partnership with Parthian,.

His work has been