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Pond

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  3,594 ratings  ·  679 reviews
Feverish and forthright, Pond is an absorbing chronicle of the pitfalls and pleasures of a solitudinous life told by an unnamed woman living on the cusp of a coastal town. Broken bowls, belligerent cows, swanky aubergines, trembling moonrises and horrifying sunsets, the physical world depicted in these stories is unsettling yet intimately familiar and soon takes on a life ...more
Hardcover, 148 pages
Published April 23rd 2015 by The Stinging Fly Press
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3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,594 ratings  ·  679 reviews


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Fionnuala
Mar 07, 2016 added it
Recommended to Fionnuala by: M. Sarki
An odd thing happened as I was reading Claire-Louise Bennett’s book, a paper and ink book, it is relevant to mention, because as I read, it was as if the words were appearing on a screen, each one being completed just slightly in advance of my eager eye (in fact exactly as is happening now while I’m typing), the thoughts rolling out, the punctuation slotting into place just where I expected it, the words and phrases meantime building on each other in a way that seemed completely coherent to me i ...more
Kevin Kelsey
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: _library, read-2017
Posted at Heradas

What a fascinating story collection/novel, and honestly I’m not sure which it is. If you read between the lines, you can put together a narrative of sorts. The character seems to be working things out for herself, possibly some past trauma, through these short musing and ramblings about everything and nothing all around her. It’s a unique window into rural life in an Irish village. It works just fine as a story collection as well. I think it’s probably all in how you approach it
...more
Dolors
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those friendly to modern poetry
Shelves: read-in-2018
I often compare narrative with a river flowing with its sinuous twists and turns, its affluents and bifurcations, an ongoing path that keeps going beyond the pages of a book.
As the title suggests, Bennett’s collection of short stories, or should I say fragmented sketches of stream of consciousness told in the first person, couldn’t be more confined than a Pond. The unnamed narrator, a woman who lives on her own on the west coast of Ireland, builds a sort of prison around the quotidian aspects o
...more
Cheri
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Some have referred to Pond as a collection of short stories, I would say they’re loosely connected rambling thoughts, musings by the narrator, a woman in Ireland who lives alone in a cottage.

The writing is lovely. If there is any focus at all, it is the daily ordinariness of life, with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, softened. It’s all said with a nod to the joy of the everyday moments, the reflections on her walks about, the setting, her written ramblings as you follow her on her rambles abo
...more
CAG_1337
Jun 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
Have you ever been out to dinner with someone who babbles incessantly about nothing in particular, so much so that you feel you mightn't have any means of relief save gnawing your own leg off to escape? Reading this collection recalled that sensation for me.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I wish I had kept track of why I decided I had to read this book RIGHT AWAY to the extent that I requested it from interlibrary loan, and it had to come all the way from Notre Dame, one of the few American universities to have it because it isn't actually out in the USA until next month. (Tell me if you told me to read this!)

The right person to read this book would be someone who has the patience to read Eimear McBride, Nicholson Baker (the post-modern fiction version not the cranky non-fiction
...more
Hugh
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2017
An intriguing and poetic collection, that sits somewhere between short stories and stream of consciousness.

There is a loose narrative thread, in that all of the stories describe the thoughts of a woman living alone in a rented cottage on the west coast of Ireland. The pieces vary in length from a few lines to 20 pages.

Bennett has a talent for making poetic observations about some very quotidian subject matter, and creating a slightly unsettling atmosphere. I am struggling to describe why this
...more
Lee
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The observations of a privileged academic (yet apparently unemployed) hermit who at most takes trips to the supermarket and has some friends over but mostly PONDers fruit, her oven, pens, all under the shadow of some unstated sorrow maybe -- not fair to consider it along the lines of a conventional novel or story collection since this intends to do nothing, really. It's anti-ecstatic writing. Updike said Nabokov wrote prose the way it should be written -- ecstatically -- but this seems to try to ...more
M. Sarki
http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/1392879...

Even before I was finished, actually having more than just a few pages remaining of the second to last piece, and still waiting for me a two page story to read before I could completely say I was finished with this book, I already decided I was going to start right back in and read it all again. It is the rare book that challenges me so. I can only recall Robert Walser’s The Robber having a similar affect on me, but that was because I failed to understand
...more
Jonathan
Pretty much perfect, and well deserving of the growing hype. Certainly one of the best things I have read this year.

This is the first section of the book (note the Rhys reference in its title):

Voyage in the Dark

First of all, it seemed to us that you were very handsome. And the principal windows of your house were perfectly positioned to display a blazing reflection at sunset. One evening while walking back from the fields this effect was so dramatic we thought your rooms were burning. We like
...more
Stephen P
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Stephen by: M.Sarki
*That above is not the cover therefore the edition I read. The physical presence of the book as described below was a part of the overall experience. I know it is listed and shown under Bennett's, Pond. Now I just have to figure out how to put this review under that edition with that cover without injuring myself.

This book will most likely be the best book which doesn’t appear to be a best book I will read this year. Focusing on the small acts, the surface contributions of a life, it is much lik
...more
Diane Barnes
Apr 30, 2016 marked it as don-t-want-to-finish
I still have 40 pages to go, but I just can't do it. I'm done. There are some great and funny insights every once in a while, but not enough to keep me reading. No rating. DNF
Lisa
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book to read in line at the bank, amidst the trilling thumps of construction, beside the jarring voice of a teenage conversation.

Enter this book like you would enter a church. You don't need to believe in anything but sanctity itself. Give these words the silent envelope they are due.

How would I adjust to simply living for a time? I like to think I would find pleasure, or solace, in simple domesticities like the narrator of Pond. But the fact of the matter is, I am remarkably good
...more
Valarie Smith
Jun 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
Like being in a beautiful place with a neurotic who won't stop talking. This book has gotten nearly universally wonderful reviews by people I greatly admire, so I guess it's just me, but I couldn't wait for it to be over.
Jan Priddy
Jul 23, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I tried to like it, but not hard enough. I heard it was wonderful, brilliant, captivating. I found it self-indulgent, mundane, and trivial.

In an interview, Bennett claims she is not interested in creating literature but in writing about life. Yeah? Perhaps this is a pretty rich white girl's idea of wisdom or life or the way things really are. Perhaps she isn't pretty or rich, perhaps I should admire what she does well. It's just that most of us really do sometimes have deeper concerns than exac
...more
Paul Fulcher
Reposting as this - perhaps my favourite novel of 2016 - reminded me in a way of my novel of 2017, Reservoir 13. In particular the author's comment, when talking about Pond, that:

Human beings and the stunts they pull were a minor constituent of my world view. There were hundreds of thousands of phenomena far more fascinating

----------------
"I would be disgusted to the point of taking immediate vengeance if I was brought to a purportedly magical place one afternoon in late September and therefore
...more
jo
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
this is a mesmerizing debut. it's a book filled with poetic yet somehow edgy language, and full of words -- words you don't encounter often, very specific words, and, at some point, unspooled words, as if the narrator were so taken by her words that she starts to use them randomly, or maybe following some inner association, or possibly drawn by the compelling combination of the sounds they make. what i mean to say is that, toward the end, some of the writing becomes decisively surrealistic, and ...more
Lela
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It's so quirky! I had big laughs, lots of chuckles and some sniffles. It's very stream of consciousness about the life of an odd woman living mostly in seclusion, trying her hand at gardening and neighborliness and not doing either very well. In ways it reminded me of a prose poem with chapters! Very well done. Probably not everyone's cup of tea, though it is served with many savory thoughts! It is an exquisite little book! Thanks Riverhead Books for the opportunity to read th ...more
John
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holy Smokes - what a book to review! At least I don't have to worry about rehashing a plot as . . . well . . . I think I'd need to actually smoke some hash to find one!

What we have here is an Englishwoman in a rural Irish cottage. She mentions having been a doctoral candidate at one point, so the big words she throws around aren't inappropriate for her. The big words she throws around while describing her very limited life. Describing her limited life takes up as much of her daily exertion as ac
...more
Stephen
Aug 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Borderline brilliant, but the book will depend on how long you can withstand living in the head of another person with no way out. And with rhythms that never change, whether the sentences are shortened or lengthened. This kind of writing is, once again, poetry trying to be snuck in through the back doors of prose.

We all know why poets try and do this: there is more cachet in fiction. As for readers though, I am worn out on writing that does no more than find truth in perception and language. I
...more
David
Oh, Pond...

I was initially struck, yes, by the beautiful cover, but then I read the given praise and decided to get it. I had high hopes for Claire-Louise Bennett's debut publication, but, unfortunately, it largely didn't work for me.

There really isn't much of a plot; rather, it's just selections of musings from a generally-lonely, young academic renting a cottage in the Irish countryside. Bennett's writing is gloriously overdone. She circles back and forth, around and around, on nothing in part
...more
Marjorie
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a unique book basically consisting of a series of meditations by a woman who is living a fairly solitary life. She’s mostly alone but does have contact with some friends and even throws a party. Her musings are sometimes humorous and sometimes sad. Some of the chapters are very short, only a few sentences as she not only describes her days but thinks back on her past.

For those of you looking for a good plot, this wouldn’t be the book for you. To give you an idea, the first chapter is abo
...more
Aurora
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

English, strictly speaking, is not my first language by the way. I haven't yet discovered what my first language is so for the time being I use English words in order to say things. I expect I will always have to do it that way; regrettably I don't think my first language can be written down at all. I'm not sure it can be made external you see. I think it has to stay where it is; simmering in the elastic gloom betwixt my flickering organs.

Pond is one of the most interesting books I've read th
...more
Holly
Aug 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
I'm at a loss to compose a review that really captures what I felt/thought about this novel. All I can say is that this was sort of unsettling and ambiguous, with lengthy natural descriptions by a narrator who seemed a little unhinged and/or deeply sad. There is a tone of loss and unspoken tragedy in her narrator's musings: she seems to be talking around the tragedy, if that is what it is, by discussing cooking and gardening, sex, quotidian life. It's quite mesmerizing.

Also: the unnamed novel th
...more
Marc
(Written in a pseudo-affected style reminiscent of this book…)
Sometimes an incredibly quirky new voice comes across the page and charms your pants off. But sometimes you’re not wearing any pants and what at first feels like a mildly arousing literary voice vibrating pleasantly against your nether regions slowly morphs into a kind of chafing textual irritant. You reset the table using various geometric patterns in an effort to foist a notion of control over the nefarious existence that seems bana
...more
Ctgt
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
But then, as I have mentioned already, I am often alone and when I am alone it really is difficult for me to gauge distance, and so perhaps for that reason, I haven't acquired a particularly distinct sense of the past.

Well that was an odd duck. Good but odd. At times it reminded me of a collection of essays or a stream of consciousness thrown down on the page. I bring up the stream reference because there were times when I struggled with some passages and had to go back and reread a section. Fun
...more
Jimmy
Claire-Louise Bennett is deciding something in her head. The process is like alchemy, involving mysterious vapors. And maybe frogs that sound like vaginas. She is uncompromising about how internal the process is, yet adamant about how transparent she wants to be with you, the external element. As if you were the only one in the room, and not a world of readers in your head as well. What does she want from you?

Her thinking and thus writing practice (for they become one and the same) is not uniqu
...more
Ken
Aug 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
First-person point of view can be charming, indeed. We read such books and feel as though the narrator has chosen us specifically to confide in. We are privy to the narrator's secrets. We are honored to keep them secret in the name of empathy.

First-person point of view can be a prison, too. Imagine being trapped in the mind of someone who drives you crazy, whose observations are of little interest to you, whose voice is self-consciously quirky because the author (strings visible) is pulling said
...more
H.A. Leuschel
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and very original collection of short stories, that challenges the reader to enter a woman's mind and discover her meandering thoughts and observations of what she sees and does. It's definitely one of the more unusual pieces of fiction I picked up in recent months. The style of writing is unsettling but also quirky, funny and very moving at times.
Stephen P
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephen by: M.Sarki
Yes, the right edition and the right cover. Though hard to see here it did make a difference.
*See below.

This book will most likely be the best book which doesn’t appear to be a best book I will read this year. Focusing on the small acts, the surface contributions of a life, it is much like a conversation had with a next door neighbor over the backyard fence. It is only part way into the talk that it is realized the neighbor is speaking a different language. Not a foreign tongue but that the simp
...more
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CLAIRE-LOUISE BENNETT grew up in Wiltshire and studied literature and drama at the University of Roehampton, before settling in Galway. Her short fiction and essays have been published in THE STINGING FLY, THE PENNY DREADFUL, THE MOTH, COLONY, THE IRISH TIMES, THE WHITE REVIEW and GORSE. She was awarded the inaugural White Review Short Story Prize in 2013 and has received bursaries from the Arts C ...more
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“Everybody knows deep down that life is as much about the things that do not happen as the things that do and that's not something that ought to be glossed over or denied because without frustration there would hardly be any need to daydream. And daydreams return me to my original sense of things and I luxuriate in these fervid primary visions until I am entirely my unalloyed self again. So even though it sometimes feels as if one could just about die from disappointment I must concede that in fact in a rather perverse way it is precisely those things I did not get that are keeping me alive.” 16 likes
“If you are not from a particular place the history of that particular place will dwell inside you differently to how it dwells within those people who are from that particular place. Your connection to certain events that define the history of a particular place is not straightforward because none of your ancestors were in any way involved or affected by those events. You have no stories to relate and compare, you have no narrative to inherit and run with, and all the names are strange one that mean nothing to you at all. And it's as if the history of a particular place knows all about this blankness you contain. Consequently if you are not from a particular place you will always be vulnerable for the reason that it doesn't matter how many years you have lived there you will never have a side of the story; nothing with which you can hold the full force of the history of a particular place at bay.
And so it comes at you directly, right through the softly padding soles of your feet, battering up throughout your body, before unpacking its clamouring store of images in the clear open spaces of your mind.
Opening out at last; out, out, out
And shimmered across the pale expanse of a flat defenceless sky.

All the names mean nothing to you, and your name means nothing to them.”
14 likes
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