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Spill Simmer Falter Wither

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  5,347 ratings  ·  1,005 reviews
You find me on a Tuesday, on my Tuesday trip to town. You're sellotaped to the inside pane of the jumble shop window. A photograph of your mangled face and underneath an appeal for a COMPASSIONATE AND TOLERANT OWNER. A PERSON WITHOUT OTHER PETS & WITHOUT CHILDREN UNDER FOUR.

A misfit man finds a misfit dog. Ray, aged fifty-seven, ‘too old for starting over, too young for gi
...more
Paperback, 215 pages
Published February 1st 2015 by Tramp Press
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Frank Parker
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John I agree with Frank and Michelle about the ending. But, boy what a novel ! Poetic, lyrical ; I just wish I could write like this. For me the greatest g…moreI agree with Frank and Michelle about the ending. But, boy what a novel ! Poetic, lyrical ; I just wish I could write like this. For me the greatest gift of this novel is Sara's empathy. As a counsellor I often see the disintegration that happens in people's lives. But to be able to describe it with such clarity, without sentimentality, is a true gift (less)

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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  5,347 ratings  ·  1,005 reviews


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Elyse  Walters
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, europe
This is a very sad dark story.....with gorgeous descriptive writing.
A man, (Ray), and a dog (One Eye), have both been abused.
They both have disabilities.
They both are angry.
They both are lonely.
They both live with fear
They are each other's whole world - their only companion.....there are circumstances for this.

Until 'One Eye' ( a stray dog with only one eye who stumbles and falls - as balance has affected his sight), Ray - age 57- had never had a pet his entire life bigger than a Kiwi frui
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Will Byrnes
You’re Sellotaped to the inside pane of the jumble shop window. A photograph of your mangled face and underneath an appeal for a COMPASSIONATE & TOLERANT OWNER. A PERSON WITHOUT OTHER PETS & WITHOUT CHILDREN UNDER FOUR. The notice shares street-facing space with a sheepskin overcoat, a rubberwood tambourine, a stiffed wigeon and a calligraphy set. The overcoat’s sagged and the tambourine’s punctured. The wigeon’s trickling sawdust and the calligraphy set’s likely to be missing inks or nibs o
...more
Doug H
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: advance-copy


Beware of Novel

If you’re looking for a feel-good man and dog love story, back away slowly and keep on looking. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quiet character study that is dense with poetic language, detailed imagery and a feeling of slowly snowballing dread, look no further. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though. This one might just bite your heart out.

I knew going in that this novel might destroy me because our beautiful furkid Sara (an extremely smart Sheltie/Border Collie with mor
...more
Always Pouting
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ray has grown old, and hasn't had an easy life. He ends up taking in a dog, One Eye, who like him is old and worn down, both abused and angry at life. Ray who is lonely and isolated begins to confide in One Eye about his life, and feels that the dog can understand him, both of them having been disregarded by others, looking for a place where they can feel safe and loved. The writing was a little bit disorienting to get into but after I got into the rhythm of the book it worked pretty well. The s ...more
Cheri

At fifty-seven, Ray is an outsider, mostly unseen by the people who dwell in his small town. He has a bit of a hump on his back, and an uneven gate, can manage to get by on his own most days in most ways, but he’s really an innocent when it comes to life-skills, other than perhaps reading. He reads, books in his father’s house, books from the bookmobile when he feels he can safely enter and be left alone. Books are his friends, his conversations on a somewhat daily basis limited to basic pleasan
...more
Carol
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written debut novel about two social outcasts…a man and his one-eyed dog. I’m a YUUUGE dog lover, and I usually avoid dog stories. Most often they break my heart. This elegant story was melancholy, pensive and at times, certainly heart-wrenching. Even so, I loved this sad tale that confirmed (for me) the significance of our cherished pets.

There are already many lovely reviews of this story on Goodreads. I would only be repetitious. I will just encourage you to read this moving, Iris
...more
Hugh
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2017
Sara Baume is another talented and original young Irish writer. Her second novel A Line Made by Walking, which was nominated for the Goldsmiths Prize, was one of my favourite books of the year, and this one is almost as good, and a very impressive first novel. I must admit that I approached it with a little trepidation - books about lonely people's relationships with their dogs can easily become syrupy and sentimental, but there is no danger of that here - if anything my only criticism is that i ...more
Jaline
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2017-completed
This book is a story; yet it is more of a journey. It is a journey that will make you pause, over and over again, to contemplate the perceptions that are laid out like little gifts overflowing onto the pages from a Christmas stocking too small to hold them all.

This book is not for speed-reading and if you cannot savor the pace of watching leaves unfolding on deciduous trees on the first sunny day after a cool Spring, this book will not work for you.

The man sees an ad in a window for a one-eyed d
...more
Sandra
"I'm afraid, I think more than anything, of losing you."

Here is a book that made me shed a tear. Or two.
I kept thinking about my dog who passed away seven months ago. He was my baby, as far as you can call a 100 lbs dog one, who followed me everywhere. Just like One Eye is inseparable from Ray.
And I still miss him terribly. But I digress...
"Sometimes I see the sadness in you, the same sadness that's in me. It's in the way you sigh and stare and hang your head. It's in the way you never wh
...more
Nat K
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite simply, this book broke my heart. Exquisite.
Ron
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although barely revealed in the beginning, Ray is a broken man. In many ways he is like a child. He lives by the shore in a place full of people, but his view is really like a picture seen through a window. Isolated could not begin to describe his life. By his own description, he is an ogre. Maybe troll is the better word. At one point he looks at his favorite picture “Three Billy Goats Gruff”, and tells his new friend, One Eye, that the troll sitting under the bridge is like himself. One Eye is ...more
Diane Barnes
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Words fail me when I think of how to review this book. It is a stunning look into the mind of a sweet, lonely misfit, whose only friend is a one-eyed dog he rescued from the shelter.

Ray needs a damaged dog because he is a damaged man. Raised by a father who neither loved nor wanted him, not allowed to go to school or have friends or any semblance of a normal life, he identifies with the Troll under the bridge in the fairy tale of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. He more or less teaches himself to re
...more
Aditi
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.”

----Milan Kundera


Sara Baume, an English author, has penned a life-altering and extremely encouraging story about a man and his pet dog in her debut book, Spill Simmer Falter Wither that unfolds an unusual cord of friendship between a lonely aged man and a badger-baiting trained dog set ag
...more
Roger Brunyate
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-ten-2016, ireland
Unbearably Beautiful

"Unbearably poignant and beautifully told" writes Eimear McBride on the cover of this debut novel by fellow Irish writer Sara Baume. And she is right. This is a terribly sad book, yet the sheer beauty of its voice makes every page seem like a living miracle. Normally, I am a fast reader, yet I wanted to linger with this, to pause after each of the seasons indicated by the punning title—spring, summer, then fall—not just because I dreaded the slow unraveling that the words sug
...more
Laysee
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a very sad book to read at the close of an old year and the beginning of a new year. I should have known this just by the disjointed phrasing of the book title. It connotes a slow but sure movement toward disintegration.

Ray, a 57-year-old man who lives alone in a coastal Irish village, adopts One Eye, a traumatized dog from an animal shelter. The man was described as ’too old for starting over, too young for giving up’. He is socially anxious and dysfunctional, goin
...more
Emer (A Little Haze)
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone with a still-beating heart
I feel broken.
Confused.
Battered.
Bemused.
I don't know what to make of this book. It's absolutely beautiful. Utterly heartbreaking.
But I hate it. Yet I also love it.
Oh my poor heart...


"Sometimes I see the sadness in you, the same sadness that's in me. It's in the way you sigh and stare and hang your head. It's in the way you never wholly let your guard down and take the world I've given you for granted. My sadness isn't a way I feel but a thing trapped inside the walls of my flesh, like a
...more
Snotchocheez
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

Despite some raves from my friends (Irish guru Peter and Elyse among two, and sorry my HTML skills suck or I'd give y'all the link you deserve) I was really 'yeah, whatever' about another feel-good book about a dog and its owner.

Trust me, folks, this is not at all a conventional novel, and almost nothing heart-warming about it. It almost certainly will stick in your midriff like angina (whether you're a dog-lover or cynophobe; I tend toward the latter as I'll forever be a cat person).
...more
❀Julie
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Based on all the glowing reviews, it's not the book, it's me. I won't spill the beans but what it simmers down to is the story faltered and my interest withered. ...more
Margaret Madden
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One man and his dog. Not an original idea, but this is no ordinary novel.
This is my favourite novel of the decade.

This debut comes from the winner of 2014 Davy Byrnes Award, so I had a sneaky suspicion that I was starting to read something special. It took me about thirty seconds of reading to know, rather than suspect, that this was a novel to be savoured. From the prologue, to each individual chapter (each attributed to a season) and from paragraph to line, I slowly inhaled the story and let
...more
Archit

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
― Josh Billings



A heartbreaking story about two outcasts, Ray, an old man and a dog named "One Eye". Both of them find a friend in each other. Life is hard when you don't have any friends to turn to and when you meet someone similar, you want them to keep holding to you.

Their friendship knew no bounds. It grew and grew, immensely. Having a dog as a pet, Spill Simmer Falter Wither (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) makes mor
...more
Natalie Richards
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-book
Many others have reviewed this book far more eloquently than I can. What I can say is that it is a book of hurt; a damaged man and a damaged dog, physically and emotionally. Very vivid prose that completely pulled me in, I could picture man and dog so clearly. A really beautiful, but sad story.
Liz
Nov 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m of two minds about this book; I’m caught between the too wordy details of scenery, flora, and fauna on one side, and the perceptive infiltration of this isolated, lonely character’s psyche on the other. I don’t like to use 3 stars because it feels like a copout, but sometimes that’s just exactly where it lands.

“I’m not the kind of person who is able to do things.”

That right there is where the hook penetrated and I immediately cared about the narrator, Ray. I can’t count how many times
...more
Paltia
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“...as much as I crave the sea l crave it’s openness. I need to know that even though I’m small and land bound, right in front of my face it’s enormous, endless. Can you smell it, can you smell the endlessness?” This is a story that is nearly impossible for me to review. A truly cathartic experience. Ray and One Eye, are creatures no one else wants. One Eye comes into Ray’s life at first without choice and later attracted to stay near through Ray’s care and kindness. He shares his secrets with O ...more
Wyndy
4.5 tragic, beautiful, hard-to-categorize stars, and one of the most difficult books I’ve ever tried to review. It’s sad. It’s joyful. It’s painful and poetic. Every sentence and every scene is an emotional zinger. Every passing season is an affirmation of the majesty of nature. Every memory is a scab picked and picked and picked until nothing is left but a scar. I loved the way Baume brought the story full circle through her Prologue and Epilogue - a literary technique I typically do not like. ...more
☕Laura
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
I loved this book. I can't say I "enjoyed" it per se, as it possessed an overriding tone of despair, but I "felt" each and every word of it. I saw what our narrator saw and heard what he heard and felt the presence of his canine companion, Oneeye, by my side. The connection between them was so accurately portrayed and felt so very real. This was a superbly written book. ...more
Lorcan McNamee
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
The first thing to say about this book is that it is beautifully written, as other reviewers have said. Sara Baume has a light touch with language, and chooses images and descriptions that make everyday things come alive in unexpected ways.

But this, for me, was not enough to make this book satisfying. The fact is, almost nothing happens in its 216 pages. It would be possible to write the whole plot in about four lines. The central character, the only human character, is Ray, a 57 year old man w
...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Too old for starting over, too young for giving up.

You can open to any page of this book, and to any sentence, and witness some of the most exquisite writing in contemporary fiction. I can’t believe that Baume is a debut novelist, as her talent for prose, setting, and character are outstanding. I could taste the salt in the air of this unnamed coastal town (somewhere in Ireland), feel the seasons as they change (Spill=spring, Simmer=summer, Falter=fall, Wither=winter), smell the “slightly singe
...more
Kasa Cotugno
At 57, he has lived his entire life within the same walls, never forming any human interaction. His father, newly dead, saw to it that he never developed socially, and yet his interior monologue is poetic, fluid, indicative that his brain is not damaged, but stultified. And so he takes a companion, another misfit like himself, a four legged one headed for the incinerator that he names One-Eye, because this terrier only has one. The entire book is him talking with his dog, which Sara Baume has sa ...more
Robert Blumenthal
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is probably one of the hardest reviews I have written in quite a while. There are a lot of factors working against this book for what usually pleases me in a novel. There is minimal plot, a great deal of the book being poetic descriptions of sights, sounds and smells. There is minimal dialogue, most of it being the inner thoughts of a mentally ill 57-year-old man and his everyday dealings with his damaged and scruffy new dog. The tone is depressing and dismal, with little break in the dark ...more
Rebecca
This sounded to me like a charmingly offbeat story about a loner and his adopted dog setting off on a journey. As it turns out, this debut is much darker than expected, but what saves it from being unremittingly depressing is the same careful attention to voice you encounter in fellow Irish writers like Donal Ryan and Anne Enright. It’s organized into four sections, with the title’s four verbs as headings. Corresponding to the four seasons (‘Simmer’ = summer), this quartet of words charts an int ...more
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Sara Baume is an Irish novelist.
Her father is of English descent while her mother is of Irish descent. As her parents travelled around in a caravan, Sara Baume was born "on the road to Wigan Pier". When she was 4, they moved to County Cork, Ireland. She studied fine art at Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design and creative writing at Trinity College, Dublin from where she was awarded her MPhil.
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Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
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“My sadness isn’t a way I feel but a thing trapped inside the walls of my flesh, like a smog. It takes the sheen off everything. It rolls the world in soot. It saps the power from my limbs and presses my back into a stoop.” 19 likes
“Life never misses an opportunity to upscuttle us, I think. Life likes to tell us it told us so.” 15 likes
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