Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Lighthouse

Reading: Umbrella by Will Self
Listening to: "Bedroom Hymns" by Florence + the Machine
Outside: Don't know, actually... I haven't been outside all day (today, I write!)

I have recently finished reading one of the best works of literary fiction that I've ever read. It was one of a tall stack of books, an early Christmas and birthday gift from my friend/neighbour/sister-in-law and her family (bless their cotton socks). The world inside a 184-page book is indeed vast.

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore
longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2012, like the cover says!
When you hold this slim little book in your hand, you think: what is this? A chapbook? A vignette? A stage play? A pamphlet? You stand at your desk at work, or sit in your car on the school run, or wait your turn at the dental office, with nothing between you and the world but this little book. It's just so puny, you think. But then you read the blurb at the back of the book, and you turn it back over and size up the cover's lighthouse as it towers over you, you can't help but read it. I couldn't, anyway.
The stripped-down language and the simultaneously annoying but vulnerable protagonist really capture you - you find yourself wanting to reach in and shake Futh's shoulders, make him see sense. The symbolism in this book is hard to miss. I thought I could stay one step ahead of the story; I read this like a writer, trying to anticipate what would happen next - I was wrong.
It reminded me of the lighthouses my mom used to collect when I was a kid. We had kitchen shelves lined with figurine lighthouses from the Carolinas: each with its own design and story. They boasted spirals and stripes, chess-board and half-and-half, and their dual purpose: to welcome and to warn.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, North Carolina. The figurine in our kitchen was much, much smaller.
(Photo from here.)
 Masterful storytelling exists not in the graphic violence, sex or horror of a story; it whispers to you, soft and low, about the unspeakable needs of the heart. I encourage you to read this book.  The Lighthouse is masterful storytelling.
Happy Sunday, everyone!


  1. Kizmet! This book is next on my audio list (but only half through my current choice). Wooo hooo! Even MORE eager to "read" it now!

    1. You will really like it, Lil - it is strangely addictive! :)