Bin the bric-à-brac

Joanne O’Leary

  • A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume
    Heinemann, 320 pp, £12.99, February 2017, ISBN 978 1 78515 041 8

Sara Baume’s first novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither (2015), took the form of a love letter from Ray, a 57-year-old recluse, to his vicious rescue dog One Eye. Her new book, A Line Made by Walking, is narrated by Frankie, a 26-year-old artist who has a nervous breakdown, and stows away in her dead grandmother’s bungalow ‘on the brow of a yawning valley’ in rural Ireland. Nothing much happens. Frankie lives on the €5000 her grandmother left for the support of an obese golden retriever called Joe. She becomes convinced she’s losing her hearing, but it turns out to be earwax. Her mother reads a book about hypochondriacs – Proust, Warhol and Florence Nightingale – and encourages her to meditate with an aunt the other family members call ‘Buddhist Beth’. Frankie half-befriends Jink, a born-again neighbour who repairs her bicycle (‘It makes me wonder what it is about me that invites conversion’). She gets wasted on gin and shouts at a television documentary about the Sisters of Mercy – ‘I might as well reason with a toaster.’ She plays Björk at full volume.

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