Pond

Claire-Louise Bennett

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.

I started this book before I went on vacation and was too distracted to enjoy it properly. I left town and it behind there for a couple weeks, then found I was much more entranced by it in my post-vacation headspace. While a good book has no season, this one has an autumnal feel to it, so my timing may have been off in a few ways.

It’s a book of atmosphere over plot, while there are threads to carry you through, they are loosely woven, somewhere between a novel and a collection of short stories. A woman living in a rented cottage in the countryside lives a slightly misanthropic life. She is a failed scholar, having given up on her dissertation after three years of words that wouldn’t progress. A book of stillness, as evidenced by the title, with the pond realized in the book as an unimpressive body of water marked with a simple sign, “POND.” Voiced with a dry humor and a bit of self-deprecation, the narrator captures her aimlessness through introspective musings. I would read this again and make sure I’m in a quiet place.

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