Planet 234

Mab Jones reviews
by Cynan Jones and Footnotes to Water by Zoë Skoulding

by Cynan Jones

Granta, £12.00

On first encountering the title of Cynan Jones’ latest book, Stillicide, one wonders if it is a portmanteau, a combination of the words ‘still’ and ‘suicide’, perhaps. Certainly, it’s a word which chills as well as challenges, suggesting both paralysis and ending. Interestingly, the word is archaic, and is explained in the book: stillicide is the falling of a drop of water. An innocent word, therefore, except its intimations are clear and, like all of the language in this book, is cleverly wielded by Jones, who uses words as does a poet, to cut as well as convey, to crystallise meaning; and, as a writer of prose, to carry forward the narrative action of the story. If a drop of water falls repeatedly then it becomes a lifeline, or a waterfall, or a Chinese water torture; it becomes, in this tale, ‘the deafening crash of still-coming water’ and the deadly ‘tap now, of the dripping water, tap tap, like a timer’. This story embraces that complexity of interpretation and meaning in a series of ‘interlocked’ (rather than interlinked – an important clarification) stories that lead us, finally, to its conclusion.

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