2024 | KW 28

© Ruth Medjber

Buchempfehlung der Woche

von Sheila Amstrong

Sheila Armstrong ist eine Schriftstellerin und Herausgeberin aus dem Nordwesten Irlands. Sie publizierte zwei Bücher: How To Gut A Fish (2022), eine Sammlung von Kurzgeschichten, und den Roman Falling Animals (2023, beide Bloomsbury). How to Gut a Fish war auf der Shortlist für den Kate O’Brien Preis and auf der Longlist für den Edge Hill Prize. Falling Animals, ihr Debütroman wurde für den BBC2-Buchclub The Covers ausgewählt und stand auf der Shortlist für den RSL Ondaatje Prize.
In der aktuellen Ausgabe der Sprache im Technischen Zeitalter ((Nr. 250) ), die neue irische Stimmen in den Fokus stellt, findet sich auch ein Auszug aus Falling Animals auf deutsch.

Sara Baume
Die kleinsten, stillsten Dinge
Roman, Aus dem Englischen von Dirk van Gunsteren, Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2016.

There are more than a million words in the English language: about 170 thousand are in current use, while the average person uses about 20 thousand. Mathematically, there are about 800 million ways two words can be arranged together, but most people don’t bother to explore these permutations. Sara Baume is not most people.

The title of her novel is the first display of this oddness of language. It seems a strange combination, but once you realise what the words represent, their truth is undeniable. Yes – of course, things Spill in spring, they Simmer in summer, Falter in autumn and Wither in winter. Why haven’t we been calling the seasons by these proper names all along? The rightness of the words isn’t logical, but neither is love, and that’s what this book is about – the love between a lonely recluse and the one-eyed terrier he adopts from the pound.

The entire book is written in the second person, as the narrator speaks to the dog, pointing out the world around him and confessing his own inner life and longings. One Eye has “biscuity breath” and a “maggoty nose”, while the narrator is “not the type of person who can do things”. Nature and the passing seasons are documented in granularly odd detail, but the rhythm of Baume’s prose never slows down. Her imagery is constantly surprising, and I often have to pause to make a particular arrangement of words fit in my brain.

I am the type of person who smiles at animals on the street. I have fostered difficult dogs and my family’s current mutt is a former street scrapper who has learned that life can mean warm places and beach runs and regular sausages. I have met many One Eyes before. Not much seems to happen in this book, but I think plot is overrated. Good writing is in the sentences, and when they stack up like this, it seems unnecessary. “I’d forgotten again that things continue to exist even though I can’t see them.”