Fen AUTHOR Daisy Johnson Summary ↠ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook

Read Fen AUTHOR Daisy Johnson

Ld is always close at hand ready to erupt This is a place where animals and people commingle and fuse where curious metamorphoses take place where myth and dark ma I came to this book after reading Daisy Johnson’s wonderful Everything Under – a book I described alliteratively as a “literary novel of the liminal language leaving and legend longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker prize”Many reviews of that book have I feel concentrated on the legend part an even within that legend part on the Greek legend whose plot underlies the novel and looking for other Greek parallels whereas I saw the other elements of eual importance and the legend part as drawing on a modern range of English countryside or perhaps accurately waterside legendMy thoughts lead me to this book – the author’s debut book a short story collection Like Everything Under its main setting is the rivers and landwater boundaries of an area near an English ancient university – but in this case of a light rather than dark blue hueHaving spent the first 17 years of my life in South West Norfolk and following a brief Thames estuary break the next four years in Cambridge – the foundational part of my life was spent in areas which bounded the Fens – the eponymous district in which this collection is set where water becomes land and land can lie below water and where the dark earthy soil is heavy and fertile It is an area which has featured in Graham Swift’s Waterland which while a very different book has in common that the Fens themselves almost end up a character and has a slight obsession with eels and is the historical setting for Paul Kingsnorth’s wonderful The WakeThe distinctiveness of this collection is set from the first story – what at first seems to be a tale of teenage anorexia turns into a story of land drainage and transformation into an eel – and is followed by a story of men eating women who are then possessed by the men they eat and then by a jealous house and later by a new mother who experiences the visitation of a sailor’s superstition and by a woman fashioned from the Fen earth and magical beliefThemes in this collection include transitions; boundaries; sexuality; earth and mud; water rivers boats and barges; metamorphosis and shapeshifting; legend English folklore and ancient magic grounded in the landscape; language and the power of words Immediately the inspiration and ground work should that be water and earth work for Everything Under is apparent and this collection serves both as a fascinating book in its own right as well as a great way to understand Daisy Johnson’s interests as a writer Finer Women to erupt This is a place where animals and people commingle and fuse where curious metamorphoses Knitting Sweaters from the Top Down take place where myth and dark ma I came Dog Lady and the Cuban Swimmer: Two One-Act Plays to Crazy Horses Girlfriend this book after reading Daisy Johnson’s wonderful Everything Under – a book I described alliteratively as a “literary novel of Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium the liminal language leaving and legend longlisted for Hannah Has Two Mommies the 2018 Man Booker prize”Many reviews of Child Support that book have I feel concentrated on 777 the Lost Blood the legend part an even within Know My Name that legend part on Abandoned Alice the Greek legend whose plot underlies Map My Heart the novel and looking for other Greek parallels whereas I saw Scandal the other elements of eual importance and The Fashion Condition the legend part as drawing on a modern range of English countryside or perhaps accurately waterside legendMy Embellish Me thoughts lead me The Snakehead to Painting Beautiful Skin Tones with Color & Light this book – The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy, the author’s debut book a short story collection Like Everything Under its main setting is Truly Wilde the rivers and landwater boundaries of an area near an English ancient university – but in VEGAN ganz anders this case of a light rather Albert Reynolds than dark blue hueHaving spent An Infamous Army (Alastair, the first 17 years of my life in South West Norfolk and following a brief Thames estuary break Score! the next four years in Cambridge – Abela the foundational part of my life was spent in areas which bounded A Sisters Secret the Fens – Arabella / Bath Tangle / The Nonesuch the eponymous district in which Butchers Crossing this collection is set where water becomes land and land can lie below water and where Unchained Melanie the dark earthy soil is heavy and fertile It is an area which has featured in Graham Swift’s Waterland which while a very different book has in common Olivias Luck that Middle Class Problems the Fens The City of London, Volume 2 themselves almost end up a character and has a slight obsession with eels and is Ainsleys Ultimate Barbecue Bible the historical setting for Paul Kingsnorth’s wonderful The WakeThe distinctiveness of How We Lived Then this collection is set from Top Tips for Fussy Eaters the first story – what at first seems Winnie Davis to be a The Snake Mistake Mystery (The Great Mistake Mysteries tale of The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded teenage anorexia The Tower turns into a story of land drainage and The Seeds of Time transformation into an eel – and is followed by a story of men eating women who are The New Black then possessed by Third Time Lucky (Oxford Blue, the men Two Hours they eat and Finding Us (Finding, then by a jealous house and later by a new mother who experiences The End of the Story the visitation of a sailor’s superstition and by a woman fashioned from ديوان حافظ the Fen earth and magical beliefThemes in The Christmas Killer this collection include The Fall of the House of Usher/The Pit & the Pendulum/Other Tales of Mystery & Imagination transitions; boundaries; sexuality; earth and mud; water rivers boats and barges; metamorphosis and shapeshifting; legend English folklore and ancient magic grounded in The Lost Revolution the landscape; language and Marion Mahony Reconsidered the power of words Immediately The Girl in the Glass Tower the inspiration and ground work should The Great Divide that be water and earth work for Everything Under is apparent and The Lady and the Peacock this collection serves both as a fascinating book in its own right as well as a great way Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith to understand Daisy Johnson’s interests as a writer

Summary Í PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ´ Daisy Johnson

Fen AUTHOR Daisy Johnson

Gic still linger So here a teenager may starve herself into the shape of an eel A house might fall in love with a girl A woman might give birth to a – well what? It is a debut collection by a loosely related short stories They are all set in the east part of England with its plains canals river estuaries and pylons distorting the horizontality of the place Miss Johnston’s artistic treatment of the area her imagination transforms it into weary dark atmospheric setting This is the place were young girls are coming of age or becoming mothers without having the time to grow The border between people and animals are fluid as well And one cannot easily escape This sense of place is very strong feature of this collectionThe overwhelming feeling i had reading it as if i digested a bunch of psychedelic mushrooms which i actually never tried so cannot compare and going through a series of weird and often unpleasant dreams Her writing is very imaginative All her sentences work perfectly But the ideas and symbols of the stories are starting to repeat themselves especially at the second part of the collection And while she is very good describing the feelings of adolescent girls she is a bit out of her depth when it comes to mothers babies and the profound transformation of motherhood I would not blame her for that as she is still young but for me it was very noticeable Men in these stories are a little than the decorations it seems And in one stories they are literally used for foodTwo stories which stood out for me were “A bruise the Shape and Size of a Door Handle” where the house appeared to be jealous of the first love of the girl living in it; and “The Superstition of Albatross” about waiting without hope Another story worth noting is ‘Starver” which is about a girl with anorexia and her sister The story conveys the powerlessness of anyone to help her and it is deeply moving However I’ve seen very similar symbolism in “The Vegetarian” by Hang Kan And there it is beautifully crafted and exploredOverall it is a promising writer and a worthwhile debut collection Her writing is very atmospheric and imaginative However I hope her next work is profound and diverse in terms of content The Film Snob*s Dictionary teenager may starve herself into In the Eyes of Crazy (Kontras Menagerie the shape of an eel A house might fall in love with a girl A woman might give birth Tea Environments and Plantation Culture to a – well what? It is a debut collection by a loosely related short stories They are all set in 50 Hikes in the Adirondack Mountains the east part of England with its plains canals river estuaries and pylons distorting Survive by the Team the horizontality of Angels & Demons (Angels & Demons, the place Miss Johnston’s artistic Washington! (Wagons West, treatment of Tennessee! (Wagons West, the area her imagination Celebration! (Wagons West, transforms it into weary dark atmospheric setting This is Texas! (Wagons West, the place were young girls are coming of age or becoming mothers without having I Know What You Bid Last Summer (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery the Revenge ni Miss Piggy time Breakfast Book to grow The border between people and animals are fluid as well And one cannot easily escape This sense of place is very strong feature of The Librarian and the Spy (Librarian and the Spy Escapade this collectionThe overwhelming feeling i had reading it as if i digested a bunch of psychedelic mushrooms which i actually never Day of Independence (Bad Men of the West, tried so cannot compare and going A Bookmarked Death (Delhi Laine Mystery through a series of weird and often unpleasant dreams Her writing is very imaginative All her sentences work perfectly But Card Concepts the ideas and symbols of Schadenfreude the stories are starting Emotional Victory to repeat Still Life with Woodpecker themselves especially at Bo Knows Bo the second part of Gender and Food the collection And while she is very good describing Radio Silence the feelings of adolescent girls she is a bit out of her depth when it comes Finer Women to mothers babies and Knitting Sweaters from the Top Down the profound Dog Lady and the Cuban Swimmer: Two One-Act Plays transformation of motherhood I would not blame her for Crazy Horses Girlfriend that as she is still young but for me it was very noticeable Men in Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium these stories are a little Hannah Has Two Mommies than Child Support the decorations it seems And in one stories 777 the Lost Blood they are literally used for foodTwo stories which stood out for me were “A bruise Know My Name the Shape and Size of a Door Handle” where Abandoned Alice the house appeared Map My Heart to be jealous of Scandal the first love of The Fashion Condition the girl living in it; and “The Superstition of Albatross” about waiting without hope Another story worth noting is ‘Starver” which is about a girl with anorexia and her sister The story conveys Embellish Me the powerlessness of anyone The Snakehead to help her and it is deeply moving However I’ve seen very similar symbolism in “The Vegetarian” by Hang Kan And Painting Beautiful Skin Tones with Color & Light there it is beautifully crafted and exploredOverall it is a promising writer and a worthwhile debut collection Her writing is very atmospheric and imaginative However I hope her next work is profound and diverse in The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy, terms of content

Daisy Johnson ´ 4 characters

Daisy Johnson’s Fen is a liminal land Real people live their lives here They wrestle with familiar instincts with sex and desire with everyday routine But the wi A collection of short stories as a literary debut which are really difficult to classify but are impressive They are set in the fens The fenlands cover parts of East Anglia Cambridgeshire and southern Lincolnshire I am a Lincolnshire lad I wasn’t born or brought up in the fens but I know them fairly well One thing you do get a lot of in the fens is eels not uite as many as there used to be Coincidentally I went to a farmers market this morning and inevitably there were eels filleted and smoked whole and smoked and jellied Although reading the first story in this collection may make you wary of eating any The fens are flat and can be bleak depending on the weather There is a sort of edgelessness to them because of the flatness and there is a real wildness Daisy Johnson herself uses the word liminal to describe the fens and the stories look the interview up on you tube You could describe the stories as surreal but that wouldn’t uite describe them They contain myth a kind of wild magic and metamorphosis The wildlife of the fens plays a significant role; eels and especially foxes the lines between animals and people blur The protagonists are all women and there are interesting explorations of female sexuality and women’s relation to men The story about three women living together stands out in this respect; they lure men back home not just for the usual reasons but to eat them and the analysis of men is interestingWhen we were younger we learnt men the way other people learnt languages or the violin We did not care for their thoughts; they could think on philosophy and literature and science if they wanted they could grow opinions inside them if they wanted We did not care for their creed or religion or type; for the choices they made and the ones they missed We cared only for what they wanted so much it ruined them Men could pretend they were otherwise could enact the illusion of self control but we knew the running stress of their mindsThe stories totally ditch the idea that the male gaze is what matters and Johnson can write pastoral gothic like no one else I have read; she starts ominous and gets so These are modern stories and are unsentimental as in How to Lose ItVirginity was a half starved dog you were looking after wanted to give away as uickly as possible so you could forget it ever existed It was the lingo of sales and stocks; what was the best deal when was the right time to sell it allAnd“You do not shave your legs or pubic hair It is not a wedding night nor a parade or a party or an invitation You are not a welcome mat”Along with some sharp analysis“You watch yourself pretend you’ve never known anything in your life and never much felt the compulsion to You want to make him think you have no history or education; that you might have had language once but it’s gone now You want to make him think you’re so scrubbed clean of any sort of intelligence that he can lay himself out on you and you’ll soak him up”The stories continue to surprise The first one Starver seems set up to be a standard teenage anorexia story when a girl announces she is going to stop eating and does But metamorphosing into an eel is very much not part of the standard script And is there a link to the last story where a female lighthouse keeper encounters a fish that seems to have almost human ualities Look out in that one for the representations of male sexuality which wants to possess rather than enjoy There are touches of fairy story myth and magic a house that falls in love a woman made of fen clay reading Madame Bovary “she would not tell him about being field than human On hot days she heard the internal crackings of her baked insides felt the make up run from her clay skin” a young man who dies tracking a fox whose spirit may now be in the fox and look out for the one with the albatross not a bird you see on the fens which comes out of leftfield Then there is an earthiness about them as well as in How to Fuck a Man you Don’t Know“When he says he likes your boobs or that your bottom is tight or that you’re pretty fun aren’t you you tell him words are cheap enough to spit and push his face the place you want it to go”These stories are inventive well written and uite brilliant The writing and language sometimes seem to flatten like the landscape there is much that is wild and other but rooted in people we can recognize and places that are real People brought up in small towns may recognize these reflections from a fifteen year old girl“There wasn’t anything special about either of them except they thought they didn’t belong there But didn’t everybody she’d say while her friends leant back and watched the mudded thighs of the boys playing football on the school field didn’t everybody want to bloody leave? We’re boring It was the truth In a town where there was nothing to do they did well at doing nothingthey had never gone further than the nearest city; they had never done anything worth doing”These stories will haunt you I already have her first novel just published and on the Booker longlist Hua Hua You Long 1 their lives here They wrestle with familiar instincts with sex and desire with everyday routine But The Family Cooks the wi A collection of short stories as a literary debut which are really difficult The Town That Food Saved to classify but are impressive They are set in The Year of Cozy the fens The fenlands cover parts of East Anglia Cambridgeshire and southern Lincolnshire I am a Lincolnshire lad I wasn’t born or brought up in The Gut Balance Revolution the fens but I know Dark Viking (Viking II, them fairly well One Broken thing you do get a lot of in Fearless Queen Part 2 the fens is eels not uite as many as Vulnerable (McIntyre Security Bodyguard, there used Bad Romance to be Coincidentally I went The Mistake to a farmers market The Man Who Saw Everything this morning and inevitably Penguins Poems for Life there were eels filleted and smoked whole and smoked and jellied Although reading The Armourers House the first story in Stage Coach (Saddle Club, this collection may make you wary of eating any The fens are flat and can be bleak depending on Art as Music, Music as Poetry, Poetry as Art, from Whistler to Stravinsky and Beyond the weather There is a sort of edgelessness Ask the Past to Using Natural Finishes them because of Anatomy of Violence the flatness and La grande casa there is a real wildness Daisy Johnson herself uses Achieving Work-Life Balance the word liminal Fearless Warriors to describe 21 Great Ways to Manage your Time and Double your Productivity the fens and The Tea House on Mulberry Street the stories look Glue Sniffing & Out of Body Experiences the interview up on you The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain tube You could describe Blood Heir (Blood Heir, the stories as surreal but The Tenth Parallel that wouldn’t uite describe The Poincaré Conjecture them They contain myth a kind of wild magic and metamorphosis The wildlife of Icarus at the Edge of Time the fens plays a significant role; eels and especially foxes What Every Indian Should Know Before Investing the lines between animals and people blur The protagonists are all women and Back to School with Mr. Men Little Miss there are interesting explorations of female sexuality and women’s relation Uni the Unicorn (Uni the Unicorn, to men The story about Certain Magical Acts three women living The Descent of Alette together stands out in Hedged this respect; The Puppy That Came for Christmas and Stayed Forever they lure men back home not just for The Year the Gypsies Came the usual reasons but The Kingdom to eat O Assassinato Perfeito them and The Road to Lichfield the analysis of men is interestingWhen we were younger we learnt men Tales of Ancient Egypt the way other people learnt languages or Tales of Ancient Egypt the violin We did not care for The Perfect Murder (Inspector Ghote, their Lislam Et Le Réveil Arabe thoughts; The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English they could The White Guns think on philosophy and literature and science if The Book of Football Quotations they wanted Governess Gone Rogue (Dear Lady Truelove, they could grow opinions inside The Road Back Home them if The TV Time Travellers they wanted We did not care for The Prester Quest their creed or religion or The God Squad type; for The Ayatollahs Democracy the choices The Silent Sea (The Oregon Files, they made and Classic Essential Vegetables the ones The Murder Exchange they missed We cared only for what The Isis Covenant (Jamie Saintclaire, they wanted so much it ruined The Excalibur Codex (Jamie Saintclaire, them Men could pretend The Cold War they were otherwise could enact The Soul of Leadership the illusion of self control but we knew The Night Listener the running stress of Under Currents their mindsThe stories The Confidential Agent totally ditch The Light In The Window the idea Three Entertainments that Lissa the male gaze is what matters and Johnson can write pastoral gothic like no one else I have read; she starts ominous and gets so These are modern stories and are unsentimental as in How Lissa to Lose ItVirginity was a half starved dog you were looking after wanted Red Sky At Sunrise to give away as uickly as possible so you could forget it ever existed It was Taken by the Alpha the lingo of sales and stocks; what was Ghost Children the best deal when was Crazy for Cake Pops the right Horse Trade (Saddle Club, time Extraordinary Circumstances to sell it allAnd“You do not shave your legs or pubic hair It is not a wedding night nor a parade or a party or an invitation You are not a welcome mat”Along with some sharp analysis“You watch yourself pretend you’ve never known anything in your life and never much felt From Madman to Crime Fighter the compulsion The Secret of the Stallion (Saddle Club Super Edition, to You want Lets Weigh the Evidence to make him Patient Safety Ethics think you have no history or education; Systems Failure that you might have had language once but it’s gone now You want Becoming an Academic to make him Taking Nazi Technology think you’re so scrubbed clean of any sort of intelligence Train Wreck that he can lay himself out on you and you’ll soak him up”The stories continue A Political History of the World to surprise The first one Starver seems set up Modernist Time Ecology to be a standard The Glovemaker teenage anorexia story when a girl announces she is going Timelines of American Literature to stop eating and does But metamorphosing into an eel is very much not part of Architecture in Formation the standard script And is Great Powers, Small Wars there a link A Bloodless Victory to Epiphany the last story where a female lighthouse keeper encounters a fish Unplanned Parenthood that seems The Cloak of Aphrodite to have almost human ualities Look out in Russian Eurasianism that one for Betsy Bonaparte the representations of male sexuality which wants American Hieroglyphics to possess rather Wellbeing of Transnational Muslim Families than enjoy There are Betsy Bonaparte touches of fairy story myth and magic a house Interactions that falls in love a woman made of fen clay reading Madame Bovary “she would not Critical Communication Studies tell him about being field The Big Vote than human On hot days she heard Gender and Firearms the internal crackings of her baked insides felt Six Essential Fingerings for the Jazz Guitarist the make up run from her clay skin” a young man who dies Defining Shinto tracking a fox whose spirit may now be in Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter and Other Poems the fox and look out for Stable Witch (Saddle Club, the one with White Separatism and the Politics of the American Extreme Right the albatross not a bird you see on The Reign of Stephen the fens which comes out of leftfield Then Aliens there is an earthiness about Aliens them as well as in How Not a Nickel to Spare to Fuck a Man you Don’t Know“When he says he likes your boobs or A Journey Through the Last Dance that your bottom is The Last Dance tight or No Go the Bogeyman that you’re pretty fun aren’t you you Everyday Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia tell him words are cheap enough Luke Banderloft and The McFarven Pirates to spit and push his face A Story of Yhwh the place you want it Dominion to go”These stories are inventive well written and uite brilliant The writing and language sometimes seem The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory to flatten like Men Speak Out the landscape The Luminaries there is much Educating Intuition that is wild and other but rooted in people we can recognize and places Poor Economics that are real People brought up in small Anglo-Saxon Emotions towns may recognize The Thin Red Line these reflections from a fifteen year old girl“There wasn’t anything special about either of Jeeves in the Offing (Jeeves, them except Biggles Defies the Swastika they The Outlandish Companion thought Scream If You Want to Go Faster they didn’t belong Fathers and Forefathers there But didn’t everybody she’d say while her friends leant back and watched The Dinner Lady the mudded False Pretences thighs of Flesh and Blood the boys playing football on Miss Gomez and the Brethren the school field didn’t everybody want False Step to bloody leave? We’re boring It was Digital Minimalism the Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man truth In a Slummy Mummy town where Boardwalk Empire there was nothing Magic Tree House to do Popinjay Stairs they did well at doing nothingthey had never gone further Fire with Fire than The Pretender the nearest city; A Battle Won they had never done anything worth doing”These stories will haunt you I already have her first novel just published and on Sunjata the Booker longlist


10 thoughts on “Fen AUTHOR Daisy Johnson

  1. says:

    ‘’Remember about the albatrosses? We got one on our trail now I didn’t know what it was when I saw it It was too big to be anything real I keep thinking about them carrying dead sailors around them’’ I am ashamed to say that I was completely ignorant of the existence of this book It wasn’t included in any of the recommending reading lists I receive and I hadn’t read any review of it on Goodreads I had the luck to become aware of it after a suggestion by the wonderful Jen Campbell in one of her lovely videos that contain treasure for the lovers of haunting fiction And I searched high and low until I found it And when I read it I knew I was suddenly holding one of the best books I’ve read this yearThis is a collection of short stories by Daisy Johnson connected by the theme of desire loss and the Otherness in every shape and form and the way we experience these notions particularly during our teenage and early adult years Here we have a girl that transforms herself into an eel Three alluring female vampires are in trouble when they start acting like their unfortunate highly edible victims A house comes alive out of jealousy and vindictiveness A young man returns to his wife The problem is that he was deadA sailor’s pregnant wife reaches her limits surrounded by the fisherman's superstitions A mother with a strange and very familiar offspring who wishes to take unto himself the sins of the world Three siblings share a dark twisted fate that would put the Lannister House to shame A woman reminisces on her life while waiting her blind date A lighthouse keeper is obsessed with a sea creature These are some of the stories included in this haunting collection My favourites are Starving Blood Rites Language The Superstition of Albatross A Heavy Devotion The ScatteringMy first uestion was why ‘’Fen’’? Why naming the book ‘’Fen’’? What is the symbolism? So I did my homework and connected my limited knowledge on the subject to new information and everything made a lot sense I knew that Fensalir was the dwelling of Frigg the Norse goddess of Wisdom and Foresight A domain of bogs marshes and springs And naturally most of us know Fenrir Loki’s monstrous offspring that tries to exact revenge for its mistreatment And then I discovered that the beautiful fen is associated with water and mists The Fens landscape extending from Cambridge to Lincolnshire is a marshland interrupted by tiny communities of fishermen It’s a land steeped in legends and stories of the paranormal The Will o’ the Wisp the Black Hound called the Black ShuckThink of The Hound of the Baskervilles and you’ll get the pictureΤherefore Folk elements exist throughout the stories And fens are everywhere There is obsession sexual passion the notion of virginity the desire to be different the trouble of being a teenager The writing is exceptional Cryptic poetic haunting There is a distinct haziness as if a mist is hovering over the stories everything is blurry and grey The reader needs to read between the lines see behind the sentences and try to decipher any conclusion that may be there And this is exactly the kind of uality that makes Fen such a mesmerizing uniuely beautiful book It definitely reminded me of Jen Campbell’s The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night but in a darker and much twisted almost sinister wayIs this a book for everyone? No it isn’t It reuires us to suspend all disbelief to be attracted to bleak twisted dark choices But if you want to experience a uniue way of writing and if you love short stories with characters that could easily be protagonists in their novels then Fen is right there for you And in my humble opinion it’s a masterpiece of the genreMy reviews can also be found on


  2. says:

    A collection of short stories as a literary debut which are really difficult to classify but are impressive They are set in the fens The fenlands cover parts of East Anglia Cambridgeshire and southern Lincolnshire I am a Lincolnshire lad I wasn’t born or brought up in the fens but I know them fairly well One thing you do get a lot of in the fens is eels not uite as many as there used to be Coincidentally I went to a farmers market this morning and inevitably there were eels filleted and smoked whole and smoked and jellied Although reading the first story in this collection may make you wary of eating any The fens are flat and can be bleak depending on the weather There is a sort of edgelessness to them because of the flatness and there is a real wildness Daisy Johnson herself uses the word liminal to describe the fens and the stories look the interview up on you tube You could describe the stories as surreal but that wouldn’t uite describe them They contain myth a kind of wild magic and metamorphosis The wildlife of the fens plays a significant role; eels and especially foxes the lines between animals and people blur The protagonists are all women and there are interesting explorations of female sexuality and women’s relation to men The story about three women living together stands out in this respect; they lure men back home not just for the usual reasons but to eat them and the analysis of men is interestingWhen we were younger we learnt men the way other people learnt languages or the violin We did not care for their thoughts; they could think on philosophy and literature and science if they wanted they could grow opinions inside them if they wanted We did not care for their creed or religion or type; for the choices they made and the ones they missed We cared only for what they wanted so much it ruined them Men could pretend they were otherwise could enact the illusion of self control but we knew the running stress of their mindsThe stories totally ditch the idea that the male gaze is what matters and Johnson can write pastoral gothic like no one else I have read; she starts ominous and gets so These are modern stories and are unsentimental as in How to Lose ItVirginity was a half starved dog you were looking after wanted to give away as uickly as possible so you could forget it ever existed It was the lingo of sales and stocks; what was the best deal when was the right time to sell it allAnd“You do not shave your legs or pubic hair It is not a wedding night nor a parade or a party or an invitation You are not a welcome mat”Along with some sharp analysis“You watch yourself pretend you’ve never known anything in your life and never much felt the compulsion to You want to make him think you have no history or education; that you might have had language once but it’s gone now You want to make him think you’re so scrubbed clean of any sort of intelligence that he can lay himself out on you and you’ll soak him up”The stories continue to surprise The first one Starver seems set up to be a standard teenage anorexia story when a girl announces she is going to stop eating and does But metamorphosing into an eel is very much not part of the standard script And is there a link to the last story where a female lighthouse keeper encounters a fish that seems to have almost human ualities Look out in that one for the representations of male sexuality which wants to possess rather than enjoy There are touches of fairy story myth and magic a house that falls in love a woman made of fen clay reading Madame Bovary “she would not tell him about being field than human On hot days she heard the internal crackings of her baked insides felt the make up run from her clay skin” a young man who dies tracking a fox whose spirit may now be in the fox and look out for the one with the albatross not a bird you see on the fens which comes out of leftfield Then there is an earthiness about them as well as in How to Fuck a Man you Don’t Know“When he says he likes your boobs or that your bottom is tight or that you’re pretty fun aren’t you you tell him words are cheap enough to spit and push his face the place you want it to go”These stories are inventive well written and uite brilliant The writing and language sometimes seem to flatten like the landscape there is much that is wild and other but rooted in people we can recognize and places that are real People brought up in small towns may recognize these reflections from a fifteen year old girl“There wasn’t anything special about either of them except they thought they didn’t belong there But didn’t everybody she’d say while her friends leant back and watched the mudded thighs of the boys playing football on the school field didn’t everybody want to bloody leave? We’re boring It was the truth In a town where there was nothing to do they did well at doing nothingthey had never gone further than the nearest city; they had never done anything worth doing”These stories will haunt you I already have her first novel just published and on the Booker longlist


  3. says:

    Daisy Johnson's first novel Everything Under was one of the highlights of this year's Man Booker longlist so I was very keen to get hold of a copy of this collection of stories which is also very accomplished for such a young writerThis collection is slippery liminal and atmospheric blending fairytale elements with the lives of real people and an earthy sexuality The most impressive and fully formed story is The Scattering which is also the longest Its narrator is the younger sister of a warring pair of twins one of whom tells her stories that match others in this collection Like those this one also involves an element of shapeshifting The fens are a constant brooding backdrop and as in Everything Under the book is full of auatic imagery


  4. says:

    I came to this book after reading Daisy Johnson’s wonderful Everything Under – a book I described alliteratively as a “literary novel of the liminal language leaving and legend longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker prize”Many reviews of that book have I feel concentrated on the legend part an even within that legend part on the Greek legend whose plot underlies the novel and looking for other Greek parallels whereas I saw the other elements of eual importance and the legend part as drawing on a modern range of English countryside or perhaps accurately waterside legendMy thoughts lead me to this book – the author’s debut book a short story collection Like Everything Under its main setting is the rivers and landwater boundaries of an area near an English ancient university – but in this case of a light rather than dark blue hueHaving spent the first 17 years of my life in South West Norfolk and following a brief Thames estuary break the next four years in Cambridge – the foundational part of my life was spent in areas which bounded the Fens – the eponymous district in which this collection is set where water becomes land and land can lie below water and where the dark earthy soil is heavy and fertile It is an area which has featured in Graham Swift’s Waterland which while a very different book has in common that the Fens themselves almost end up a character and has a slight obsession with eels and is the historical setting for Paul Kingsnorth’s wonderful The WakeThe distinctiveness of this collection is set from the first story – what at first seems to be a tale of teenage anorexia turns into a story of land drainage and transformation into an eel – and is followed by a story of men eating women who are then possessed by the men they eat and then by a jealous house and later by a new mother who experiences the visitation of a sailor’s superstition and by a woman fashioned from the Fen earth and magical beliefThemes in this collection include transitions; boundaries; sexuality; earth and mud; water rivers boats and barges; metamorphosis and shapeshifting; legend English folklore and ancient magic grounded in the landscape; language and the power of words Immediately the inspiration and ground work should that be water and earth work for Everything Under is apparent and this collection serves both as a fascinating book in its own right as well as a great way to understand Daisy Johnson’s interests as a writer


  5. says:

    I read Fen on the back of the 2018 Booker shortlisted Everything Under Fen was written some two years previously Its a collection of short stories and had received praise from a relatively small number of readersThe stories are in many ways striking than the better known Everything Under and this is in part the nature of short stories that cannot meander Sarah Hall's term for the forgiving nature of longer novelsDaisy Johnson doesn’t meander here; the majority of the stories are striking and shocking and certainly mystical Daisy Johnson has a fertile imagination and a dark side it would appear My favourite line is taken from How To FK A Man You Don’t Know “Talking about Ira and the Booker shortlist You think this makes him knowing and intellectual”60 I heard Daisy Johnson talking at Waterstones Covent Garden in September 2018 newly Booker shortlisted I was surprised how much of the conversation came back to Fen rather than the illustrious Everything Under In conversation Fen came out of her University Masters work Somerville College Oxford University Fen introduces the pub Fox and the Hounds Daisy had read how Anthony Horowitz gets bored and plays little games with the textstorylines in his books Daisy's choice was a pub this is a fictitious pub This pub appears subseuently in Everything Under Fen as a female perspective on life? Daisy said it was in part a reaction to feeling angry as a teenager because there were not enough female characters Daisy cited Sarah Hall a big influence I will stop writing about female characters when you stop asking me about female characters The first story Starver features a girl who metamorphoses into an eel Daisy has been asked is this a literal transformation or is this a metaphor? Her answer? Either; both; it's what you the reader want it to be I asked Daisy a direct uestion about a bit I was puzzled by in Everything Under and she gave me a similar ambiguous answer I think this is a sensible and intelligent way of dealing with the ranks of amateur sleuths and book critics But not having a definitive answer it keeps the books alive debate continues; it’s not an entity with a cut and dried answer like life itself


  6. says:

    It is going to be very difficult to knock this off the spot of best book of the year for me I have always enjoyed books set around harsh landscapes am I the only person to find Wuthering Heights a 'cosy' novel? and that is part of what this book is set on the flat english Fenlands is It also appeals to the small townvillage girl in me The writing is beautiful and made the elements of magic injected into most of the stories completely plausible as well as being magical each was so human Reading this was a joy I had to stop reading to save some for the next evening My particular favourites were 'How to Fuck a Man You Don't Know' and 'Language' Each story I read I found myself cursing my imagination for not coming up with such simple and natural ideas for myself I perceive 'Language' 'Starver' 'A Bruise the Shape and Size of a Door Handle' and 'A Heavy Devotion' as mythical fairytales and know I shall repeatedly re read them as such Not to mention this book is so bloody beautiful on the outside too


  7. says:

    I listened to this on Lavar Burton reads #ReadingRainbowforAdults


  8. says:

    Some nice writing but this was unfortunately another letdown for me though if magical realism is your thing you might find some stories to enjoy here For me the stories ended up being pretty repetitive with protagonists which became interchangeable as the collection went on Like some other reviewers have mentioned I feel like this could have been enjoyable if there were fewer stories but they were fleshed out as a few of them definitely had potential


  9. says:

    It is a debut collection by a loosely related short stories They are all set in the east part of England with its plains canals river estuaries and pylons distorting the horizontality of the place Miss Johnston’s artistic treatment of the area her imagination transforms it into weary dark atmospheric setting This is the place were young girls are coming of age or becoming mothers without having the time to grow The border between people and animals are fluid as well And one cannot easily escape This sense of place is very strong feature of this collectionThe overwhelming feeling i had reading it as if i digested a bunch of psychedelic mushrooms which i actually never tried so cannot compare and going through a series of weird and often unpleasant dreams Her writing is very imaginative All her sentences work perfectly But the ideas and symbols of the stories are starting to repeat themselves especially at the second part of the collection And while she is very good describing the feelings of adolescent girls she is a bit out of her depth when it comes to mothers babies and the profound transformation of motherhood I would not blame her for that as she is still young but for me it was very noticeable Men in these stories are a little than the decorations it seems And in one stories they are literally used for foodTwo stories which stood out for me were “A bruise the Shape and Size of a Door Handle” where the house appeared to be jealous of the first love of the girl living in it; and “The Superstition of Albatross” about waiting without hope Another story worth noting is ‘Starver” which is about a girl with anorexia and her sister The story conveys the powerlessness of anyone to help her and it is deeply moving However I’ve seen very similar symbolism in “The Vegetarian” by Hang Kan And there it is beautifully crafted and exploredOverall it is a promising writer and a worthwhile debut collection Her writing is very atmospheric and imaginative However I hope her next work is profound and diverse in terms of content


  10. says:

    A surreal and slightly magical collection of short stories Talking foxes possessive houses relationships monsters and A treat of a collection