Fiction apple omnivore

Published on February 11th, 2013


The World Was All Before Them by Matthew Reynolds

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Blurb: I am dividing. It is as though I am holding myself cupped in my own hands and I am falling to pieces there, slipping through my fingers. And that is true. That is how we are in the world. We are pieced together out of lots of different bits. It’s magical … There are more than seven billion people on the planet. They have, on average, over 10 billion nerve cells in their brains and 5 litres of blood pumping through their bodies. Their skeletons are made up of 206 bones and their hearts beat approximately 72 times per minute. They are connected to each other in more ways than they can possibly imagine. Philip is one of them. Sue is another. This is their story. (Bloomsbury Circus, 2013)

Suzi Feay, The Independent

Reynolds’ narration adds another layer of defamiliarisation … Gradually, the narrative settles down. Philip is having problems at the practice, especially with a young mother and her ADHD son; there is a crisis at the gallery, so Sue might at long last get her show, but only by subterfuge. Poignantly, Reynolds shows how little Philip and Sue actually share in terms of time and thoughts … a fascinating, strange and formally delightful novel.

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Alfred Hickling, The Guardian

Reynolds’s omnivorous eye bears some resemblance to the painstaking prose poetry of Jon McGregor’s debut, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things. Yet if McGregor irradiated the everyday into something numinous, Reynolds risks slowing the narrative to a crawl. The characters cannot set off down the road until we have been issued with the names and ages of the workmen who laid the pavement.

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Stephanie Cross, The Daily Mail

Unfortunately, the debates that these oddly cipher-like characters rehearse are tired, and while Reynolds’ blend of Gray’s Anatomy with stream-of-consciousness narrative is admirably ambitious, it is more often trundling than profound.

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