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This is a woman as a mother, daughter, wife, spectator, lover, mistress. Observer and commentator. Actor and reactor. Dressed up bright as a child or submerged in the grey elegance of Paris, she shifts readily between roles, countries, and languages. Skilled and and successful, she controls how much she cares. Yet as every new woman emerges and every new story is told, each with a sharper, more deadpan, more aching simplicity, the calm surfaces of Joanna Walsh's Vertigo shatter, pulling us deep into the panic that underlies everyday life.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'Beautifully simple and unembellished, Walsh's writing - most captivating in its ability to unnerve - is cleverly revealing of her protagonist's unique and sensitive personality.' Claire Hazelton, The Guardian ---------- 'This beautifully wrought collection of stories made me think of tiny French cakes laid out in a patisserie: some tart, some sweet, some with a hidden centre, all beautifully constructed and each one exactly its own thing.' Cathy Rentzenbrink, Stylist ---------- 'Vertigo is artful, intelligent ... Walsh is a sublimely elegant writer.' Sarah Ditum, New Statesman ---------- 'Splendidly wry and offbeat ... both intellectual and aware. Stories to be digested slowly, and savoured.' Lesley McDowel, Sunday Herald ---------- 'Indefinable ... Walsh has a knack of turning the mundane into the extraordinary and provides witty and melancholy insights.' Antonia Charlesworth, Big Issue North ---------- 'Joanna Walsh's haunting and unforgettable stories enact a literal vertigo by probing the spaces between things ... Her narrator approaches the suppressed state of panic coursing beneath things that are normally tamed by our blunted perceptions of ordinary life. Vertigo is an original and breathtaking book.' Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick ---------- 'Think Renata Adler's Speedboat with a faster engine ... Vertigo reads with the exhilarating speed and concentrated force of a poetry collection. Each word seems carefully weighed and prodded for sound, taste, touch ... The stories are delicate, but they leave a strong impression, a lasting sense of detachment colliding with feeling, a heady destabilization.' Steph Cha, Los Angeles Times ---------- Her stories reveal a psychological landscape lightly spooked by loneliness, jealousy and alienation.' Heidi Julavits, The New York Times ---------- 'Vertigo is a funny, absurd collection of stories.' Maddie Crum, The Huffington Post ---------- 'Her writing sways between the tense and the absurd, as if it's hovering between this world and another ... Vertigo may redistribute the possibilities of contemporary fiction, especially if it meets with the wider audience her work demands.' Jonathon Sturgeon, Flavorwire, 33 Must-Read Books for Fall 2015 ---------- 'Less a collection of linked short stories - though it is that, too - than a cinematic montage, a collection of photographs, or a series of sketches, Walsh's book would be dreamlike if it weren't so deliciously sharp ... With wry humour and profound sensitivity, Walsh takes what is mundane and transforms it into something otherworldly with sentences that can make your heart stop. A feat of language.' Kirkus, Starred Review ---------- 'Walsh is an inventive, honest writer. In her world, objects may be closer and far more intricate than they appear; these stories offer a compelling pitch into the inner life.' Publishers Weekly ---------- 'This collection makes the familiar alien, breaking down and remaking quotidian situations, and in the process turning them into gripping literature.' Vol. 1 Brooklyn ---------- 'Moments of blazing perspicacity, creativity, intelligence, and dark humour are insanely abundant in [Walsh's] writing.' Natalie Helberg, Numero Cinq ---------- 'If anyone in the course of reviewing Vertigo refers to Joanna Walsh as a "woman writer" or says the book is about women, relationships, or mothering, I will send an avenging batibat to infiltrate his dreams because that would be like saying Waiting for Godot is about a bromance ... No, this book is about how embarrassing it is to be alive, how each of us is continually barred from our self ... Vertigo is a writer's coup, an overthrow of everyday language ... It feels so good to see Walsh jam open the lexicon - and with such dry wit... No one else has her particular copy of the dictionary.' Darcie Dennigan, The Rumpus ---------- 'Reading Vertigo has opened even wider my conceptions of what's possible in fiction-how a book can be like a series of photographs, like cinema. These stories appear as much as they engage with narrative, saturated with a calm yet rich color.' Amina Cain ---------- 'Packs a wallop into a very small space.' Jeff Vandermeer ---------- 'Walsh handles the seismic events of life-a child in intensive care, a pregnancy morphing the body-with a sort of alien bluntness and mania for category that forces her language into bizarre, thrilling new shapes. A mind-blowing must-read.' Left Bank Books, Staff Pick ---------- 'This is fiction infused with fine imagery, charged with an electric current, shockingly alive to new possibilities of rendering the mundane exquisite.' Roughghosts ---------- 'Joanna Walsh is an expert at breathing life into a possibility without forcing it to move.' Heavy Feather ------- 'Walsh's prose is simple but stunning in its precision. Her stories examine the minutiae of women's experience, the experiences language often passes over too quickly, too dismissively.' Music and Literature ---------- 'The stories [in Vertigo] hum together, evoking consciousness-consciousness's anxieties, desires, its imaginative consolations.' Biblioklept ---------- 'There's a beautiful balance in Walsh's writing: it's not showy but has a quiet style; it often raises a smile but one accompanied by melancholy eyes; it's built from the quotidian material of unremarkable life, but insists we pause and look a little closer. I was tempted to quote the wonderful final paragraph from the final story, 'Drowning', but instead I would suggest you read it as intended, as the last words in this eloquent volume.' 1stReading ---------- 'Clear, lyrical prose.' Paper Magazine