Planet 226

Helle Michelsen reviews
Y Gwreiddyn by Caryl Lewis
Cove by Cynan Jones


Y Lolfa, £7.99

There can be a lot of condensed information in a title. Aberaeron-born Cynan Jones’s four previous books are called The Long Dry; Everything I Found on the Beach; Bird, Blood, Snow and The Dig, accumulatively revealingthe writer’s main focus to be confrontation with the natural world. The terse monosyllables also suggest Cynan Jones is looking for pared-down simplicity rather than expansive inclusiveness. We now have a new book from him, Cove. A novella rather than a novel, it tells the story of a kayaker who sets off to scatter his father’s ashes in a remote cove which has meant much to both of them. Hindered in this undertaking by the unexpected presence of other people, he heads further out to sea only to wake up crippled and with amnesia, having been struck by lightning. A desperate scrabble to get back to shore follows.

A dictionary-type entry at the very beginning of the book informs us that ‘cove’ can mean both an inlet and a man, pointing up the ambiguity of the title. The narrator is clearly an intensely private person; and the remoteness of the cove he seeks serves as a symbol for his state of mind and the closeness of his relationships. The only other character whose mind we have access to is that of the pregnant woman waiting anxiously for him on shore. In a brief reference it becomes clear that the narrator’s obsessive attention to physical detail is not just a means to facilitate his survival, but also to suppress the floods of panic at the thought of how the woman and her unborn child will cope if he doesn’t make it.

Sign in to read more
Subscribe here