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That Lonesome Valley
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Republic of Consciousness Prize > 2020 RoC longlist: That Lonesome Valley

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message 1: by Paul (last edited Jan 25, 2020 12:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments That Lonesome Valley by Melissa Lee-Houghton (Morbid Books)
https://morbidbooks.net/shop/that-lon...

From the judges:

This raw and beautifully written book is the debut of accomplished poet Melissa Lee-Houghton. It is a tale of two halves, each told from the viewpoint of a couple in a romantic relationship caught in the cycles of heroin addiction; Morbid have rightly called it 'a classic of degenerative literature' in the vein of Burroughs and Irvine Welsh. It’s challenging, honest and completely gripping


Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments This looks ... interesting. I went to order a copy but their website fell into the Not Safe For Work Category. So this is my pick from the Republic of Consciousness Book Club (January's book is one of your choice from the longlist)


Neil | 1978 comments I am undecided whether I am going to read this: it really doesn't look like my kind of book. Current plan is to finish the other 11 first and then see what other people are saying about this one.


Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments Managed to order a copy from Morbid's website just now, and it does look like my kind of book. Review in due course.


Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments In the absence of a book to read - anyone managed to get a copy? - a feature on the publisher from the prize website:

https://www.republicofconsciousness.c...

... interesting stuff ...


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6120 comments That’s one word for it.


Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments I was told “this week or next” on 27th January. But it’s cool, I’ve plenty else to read whilst I wait.


message 8: by peg (new) - rated it 2 stars

peg | 148 comments Received mine from Book Depository yesterday (ordered the day of announcement). After the heavy reading of some of the others I found it very immersive and was halfway through before I knew it......but then “easiness of reading” is not really one of the criteria I use to judge these.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 3368 comments Mod
I got a similar email to Garry's on the 27th, and I have heard nothing since. I still have two parcels to collect, but I am still waiting for at least two more whichever those are.


message 10: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments I ordered this one via the RoC bookclub in any case so mine likely to be doubly delayed.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6120 comments Snap with Hugh and Garry


message 12: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3368 comments Mod
Just picked up my copy. In a parcel with two other little booklets which don't look suitable for reading on public transport!


message 13: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments Interesting - should mean rest ordered direct are due soon.

Mine I am not sure how it will arrive - Neil did you get your book from the RoC bookclub?


message 14: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments Mine has arrived as well but without the accompanying booklets.


message 15: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 1978 comments Paul wrote: "Interesting - should mean rest ordered direct are due soon.

Mine I am not sure how it will arrive - Neil did you get your book from the RoC bookclub?"


Yes - Broken Jaw arrived yesterday - I just finished it but won't talk about that here!


message 16: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Just been reading her blog. It sounds like she's had a really tough life. I wish she could experience the sort of turnaround in fortunes Anna Burns had, though this book sounds even more of an acquired taste, never mind the limited edition print run.


message 17: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments Yes 500,000 sales a little tricky with a 500 print run, although the publisher’s model is actually to hope their books are picked up by a larger publisher, so perhaps the RoC longlisting will help.


message 18: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 5560 comments This I might read. It sounds like Transgressive Fiction which I did not know I could handle, much less enjoy until I read Stump by Niall Griffiths.


message 19: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments Antonomasia - where did you find her blog?


message 20: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments Oh and those that have copies - black and white or colour cover?

I’m black and white.


message 21: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Paul wrote: "Antonomasia - where did you find her blog?"

Via her Goodreads Author page


message 22: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments Have tried to compile a playlist from the chapter titles

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/58f...

Suggestions/corrections welcome - I particularly struggled on "Crossroad". Playlist did have a bluesy feel and one or two seemed to have been covered by Eric Clapton so I made a stab in dark and went for a Cream cover.


message 23: by Paul (last edited Feb 07, 2020 02:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments Impressed with this. On my shortlist.

My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

We were on our own a kind. Our bodies were not a series of functions, needs and obligations. It was like emerging from death with your twinned soul and both of you seeking a bright and varied void in which there was no hostility, no pain and no need of anything but continuity in perpetuum.

If you feel I'm over romanticising then you've never truly loved, or you've never been addicted to narcotics and truly in love, or neither, or both. Or you've not been me, or us.



message 24: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
I hadn't planned to read this one b/c my library doesn't have a copy & the cost is a tad high. Given the limited run, I don't know that the library will ever get one, and the reviews are pretty good, so maybe I will bite the bullet and get one before they're all gone.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 672 comments I got the colored cover, which I quite like. I struggled on rating this one. I never loved it but I did get over hating it (something I never managed with Eileen). Ultimately, I found it well written and just plain sad, pitifully sad. I've slotted it at #5 for now. My review -- https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments Still waiting for my copy... :-(


message 27: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3368 comments Mod
Garry wrote: "Still waiting for my copy... :-("
Mine arrived last Wednesday. I got an email on Saturday (three days later) saying it was on its way. I suspect admin isn't their strong point...


message 28: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Garry wrote: "Still waiting for my copy... :-("

Gary, it seems like you've been waiting for that a while now. I do hope it arrives soon!

For those in the US who want a copy & haven't ordered it from the publisher: only Book Depot is selling it in the US, even if you order from Amazon, it comes from Book Depository. I'd suspect they will run out very very soon.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6120 comments When I was writing this review, I looked at other reviews to help me articulate my feelings about the book better.

What I found interesting/fascinating was that some detailed reviews assumed without comment that Morgan was female, others (similarly without comment) that he was male.

When I asked the reviewers that led them to that conclusion they could not, on reflection, say - and Paul even changed his (very detailed) review.

I had originally read the book as Morgan being male but as I re-read it for the review I realised that whereas Florence is clearly female (breast removal, birth of child, references to men deliberately condescending to her as woman) and is referred to as "her" and "she" in Morgan's account; there is ambiguity the other way round.

Morgan is never referred to as "he", "she", "his", "her" etc. and while there are passages that lead you to believe she is female or male, a closer read makes you think the passage is signalling the opposite.

Paul has now confirmed with the author that the ambiguity is deliberate.

As an aside of course Morgan is also a character name in Girl, Woman, Other.


message 30: by Paul (last edited Feb 12, 2020 11:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments Adds to the genius of the book. One of the few female Oulipans Anne Garréta wrote a book where that was the constraint (Sphinx) which was highly praised - the translation even more so (since what worked in French doesn't in English). Here it is thrown in for free so to speak.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6120 comments Wasted on her readers it would seem though


message 32: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3368 comments Mod
Jeanette Winterson did something similar in Written on the Body.


message 33: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments Not at all. The genius of doing it is to be as unintrusive and natural as possible. Whereas Sphinx was at times rather tortuously its formulations.

Prize has to be between this and We are Made of Diamond Stuff, unless judges decide to pick a translation.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6120 comments Or of course the book most people in the forum have ranked top.


Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments Hugh said Mine arrived last Wednesday. I got an email on Saturday (three days later) saying it was on its way. I suspect admin isn't their strong point...

My email dated the 8th (Saturday), saying it was distpatched. Here I am on 13th, still waiting... But we have had a lot of weather, so...

It's not like I'm hard-up for something to read, but I would like to put it in the actual, real life, tbr queue on the shelf, with the others.


Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments Or to put it another way, and following GY's post: Patience!


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6120 comments It also gives you time to mentally prepare yourself. This is a tough read.


Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments After American Dirt I'm mentally prepared for anything.


message 39: by Neil (last edited Feb 13, 2020 06:49AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 1978 comments I've just finished this.

No one is going to come on here and say, "I really enjoyed this book". Well, I can't see that happening, anyway.

But I did think it was well done, especially Florence's section (which is sadly quite a bit shorter than Morgan's).

Putting it in my rankings is difficult. It's the book I would least like to re-read, but I found it more impressive than several others on the list. Normally my rankings reflect my desire to re-read, but I may need to make an exception to that rule here.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6120 comments I going Florence’s section much stronger to the extent I did not fully read Morgan’s section. Albeit my skim read seems to have been more detailed than most people’s detailed read


message 41: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments I think I could say really enjoyed this book - more than I did Leonard & HP for example - in the sense that I appreciated the language and the challenging topic matter.

Real poetry must hurt, as if you’d forgotten you wrapped a razor blade in your handkerchief and you blow your nose, no book worth its salt is meant to put you to sleep, it’s meant to make you jump out of bed in your underwear and run and beat the author’s brains out
Bohumil Hrabal tr. Michael Henry Heim

Even if you descend to a place in which you can no longer see the clarity of the surface, don't worry too much, because the surface of the world — it too — will be dark in just a few hours (night is drawing near)
Gonçalo M. Tavares tr. Rhett McNeil


message 42: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 1978 comments Ok. I should perhaps explain that I am making a distinction between enjoy and appreciate. I was thinking in terms of enjoy meaning “this book made me happy and filled me with positive thoughts”.


message 43: by Paul (last edited Feb 13, 2020 08:38AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9670 comments Fair - although almost 180 degrees the opposite of what I look for in a book (hence my love of Thomas Bernhard!)

If I re-read books, I'd be far more likely to re-read this than most of the others on the list (I have re-read the Waidner but that is because it is so exceptional)


message 44: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Mine's been dispatched. I join the queue of people waiting (I'd expect mine won't be here anytime soon given that it's coming from the UK and I live elsewhere.)


message 45: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 1978 comments Paul wrote: "Fair - although almost 180 degrees the opposite of what I look for in a book (hence my love of Thomas Bernhard!)

If I re-read books, I'd be far more likely to re-read this than most of the others ..."


Well, it's also true that I am confusing myself! I am very unlikely to read a book for enjoyment based on the definition I gave above. Now I am mentally drawing a distinction between "enjoyment" and "pleasure" and it's getting far too complicated. I think what I was really saying is that it isn't up-lit.


message 46: by WndyJW (last edited Feb 13, 2020 03:09PM) (new)

WndyJW | 5560 comments Gumble's Yard wrote: As an aside of course Morgan is also a character name in Girl, Woman, Other. As an aside to GY’s aside Morgan is also the name of my youngest daughter.


Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments Email from Morbid Books today: “The Post Office appear to have lost it. We are very sorry for this, and will send another one asap.”


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6120 comments That's great as means all of us with 1 of the 500 numbered copies of the limited editions now have 1 of 499 numbered copies.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 672 comments Well someone has the book -- sometimes I think there are bookloving, lightfingered, postpersons on the lookout for the last book they need to read to finish the longlist for some book award.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6120 comments My book post parcels are often suspiciously late being delivered and come with tampered packaging. Last week the postman knocked and asked if I could tell him how one of the rather obscure books he (eventually) delivered in January finished, as he had not been able to find any other copies on his deliveries.


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