Technically set in a rural, coastal village in Ireland, it's perhaps more accurate to place this debut in the self-contained space of a mind. We're delivered to the quiet and delicate dreamscape of a young woman's interior, where we encounter musings on nature, career, sexuality, and the everyday that pay special tribute to the minutiae of it all. Bennett has created a new language for our most deeply-experienced solitude, and in so doing captured what lives buried just beneath the surface of our own consciousness. Painted in 20 short vignettes, this work moves both forward and backward in time, exploring one woman's interactions with herself and her surroundings in a way that's never been done before.— Caroline Froh
July 2016 Indie Next List
“A brilliant and captivating debut, Bennett's Pond is a strange, beautifully layered work of fiction, from its quirky and contemplative narrator's interior life to the vivid and charming descriptions of rural Irish life. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this book is its warm invitation to celebrate solitude. Bennett writes as if in a lush, landscaped dream, each story chapter going forward, circling back, and ending in the middle of the protagonist's musings upon her everyday experiences. Pond is utterly original, by turns hilarious and poignant, a refreshing and simply delightful read.”
— Angela Spring (E), Politics & Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, DC
"A sharp, funny, and eccentric debut ... Pond makes the case for Bennett as an innovative writer of real talent. ... It]reminds us that small things have great depths."-New York Times Book Review
"Dazzling...exquisitely written and daring ." -O, the Oprah Magazine
Immediately upon its publication in Ireland, Claire-Louise Bennett's debut began to attract attention well beyond the expectations of the tiny Irish press that published it. A deceptively slender volume, it captures with utterly mesmerizing virtuosity the interior reality of its unnamed protagonist, a young woman living a singular and mostly solitary existence on the outskirts of a small coastal village. Sidestepping the usual conventions of narrative, it focuses on the details of her daily experience--from the best way to eat porridge or bananas to an encounter with cows--rendered sometimes in story-length, story-like stretches of narrative, sometimes in fragments no longer than a page, but always suffused with the hypersaturated, almost synesthetic intensity of the physical world that we remember from childhood. The effect is of character refracted and ventriloquized by environment, catching as it bounces her longings, frustrations, and disappointments--the ending of an affair, or the ambivalent beginning with a new lover. As the narrator's persona emerges in all its eccentricity, sometimes painfully and often hilariously, we cannot help but see mirrored there our own fraught desires and limitations, and our own fugitive desire, despite everything, to be known.
Shimmering and unusual, Pond demands to be devoured in a single sitting that will linger long after the last page.
About the Author
Claire-Louise Bennett's short fiction and essays have been published in The Moth, The Irish Times, and other publications. She was awarded the inaugural White Review Short Story Prize in 2013. Pond is her first book. Bennett lives in Galway, Ireland.