Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

75%

11 Critic Reviews

While at times Pond brims with insight and dark humour, in other sections it becomes tedious and claustrophobic.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

“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 Claire-Louise Bennett

See more books from this 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. She lives in Galway, Ireland.
Author Residence: Galway, Ireland
 
Published July 12, 2016 by Riverhead Books. 205 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Pond
All: 11 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on Apr 13 2016

Short as it is, this is a demanding read: with its sharp, winding sentences, it's not a book that washes over you but a book that you work for. But the attention pays off: quietly striking, Bennett’s debut lingers long after the last page.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on May 18 2016

Never do we glean her name, or occupation, or appearance. She is a physical blank slate, there for the reader's imagination to round out. Bennett has achieved something strange, unique, and undeniably wonderful.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by MEGHAN O’ROURKE on Jul 22 2016

Despite its occasional unevenness, “Pond” makes the case for Bennett as an innovative writer of real talent.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Jul 14 2016

“Pond” is filled with short intellectual junkets into many topics. At other times it drifts, sensually, into chapters that resemble prose poems. You swim through this novel as you do through a lake in midsummer, pushing through both warm eddies and the occasional surprisingly chilly draft from below.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Andrew Gallix on Nov 18 2015

A language beyond meaning, conversant with “the earth’s embedded logos”, it remains “simmering in the elastic gloom betwixt our flickering organs”. This is a truly stunning debut, beautifully written and profoundly witty.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Malcolm Forbes on Jul 11 2016

...some of the longer pieces come clogged with gloopy formulations...However, for the most part we are captivated by the narrator's sharply illuminated interior reality and her lyrical depictions of the nature around her.

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Financial Times

Above average
Reviewed by Catherine Taylor on Oct 09 2015

It is here, in the abundant references to planting and digging, to the primal longing to be beneath the soil — away from the “chafing tumult” of history that is being made above it — that Bennett’s startling writing finds its nexus.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by MEGHAN O’ROURKE on Jul 22 2016

Despite its occasional unevenness, “Pond” makes the case for Bennett as an innovative writer of real talent.

Read Full Review of Pond | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Jul 14 2016

Sometimes first novels like “Pond” are one-offs. They deliver a voice the author can’t tap again. Ms. Bennett’s sensibility here feels like the tip of a deep iceberg, and I’ll be in line to read whatever she publishes next.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Jul 07 2016

Beneath its shimmery surface, “Pond” repeatedly plumbs the myriad setbacks and frustrations of adult life – whether as major as a failed romance or as minor as the irreplaceable knobs on an obsolete kitchen range. Yet Bennett gives us reason to be grateful for these disappointments...

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Leslie Shimotakahara on Jul 20 2016

While at times Pond brims with insight and dark humour, in other sections it becomes tedious and claustrophobic.

Read Full Review of Pond | See more reviews from National Post arts

Reader Rating for Pond
59%

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