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Book review: Claire-Louise Bennett's Dust – a journey of discovery to the inner terrain

To start reading the Claire-Louise Bennett's debutbok from 2015 feels like walking into a greenhouse, where different parts of the building houses the tool, the hoses, flowerbeds, vegetables and plants in different stages of the making or putrefaction. It can be described as a monologue given by a young woman, defecting academics by all accounts, have retreated to a thatched old house outside, one might presume, Galway, Ireland – where the author also lives.

”the Pond” is the name in the original language, and world literatures most well-known pond should be Henry David Thoureaus Walden. Anspelningen is completely aware. But the dust that is in the forest where Bennett's young sister lives is small and shallow. Hopeless really. Yet she gets mad when the neighbors put up a sheet of plywood with the words ”dust”, to warn people. She sees it out of the children's perspective, how the terrain that should be so joyous to discover constantly will be nedlusad with warning signs and self-important calls to action.

see this book as just such an open-ended journey of discovery to the inner terrain. Claire-Louise Bennett resembles less a Thoureau than an Annie Dillard (for example, ”Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”) when she småpratigt and academic thoroughly explains the household chores, potatispåtandet, meetings with neighbors, acquaintances and other strangers, the stuff in the outhouse.

Sometimes deviates from the rather dry presentation, and phrases to as a prosapoetiskt jättefyrverkeri of unsorted impressions and epifanier. Constantly return the operation to dig down to the very deepest layers: ”To hell with the leaves, and to hell with the flowers! I want to see the naked tree trunks and hear the earth gasping, and lay like a warm and soft mass of shimmering darkness. I want to see the imprint of hooves, not after sistaminuteninhandlade disposable grills”.

the Translator Carl-Johan Lind has very tender interpreted this sometimes mumbling, sometimes jubilant text to Swedish.

pretty great and the boring prose, conjured up here a young man who has more in common with his contemporary Walt Whitman. But Bennett doesn't travel America around – she travels in their regnvåta, grusvägiga, dydoftande, immediate home area and in their house with a thatched roof. It will be a different kind of song-about-me-myself; a sometimes almost wordless humming that gets the reader – I guarantee – to slow down and in wordless meditation itself begin to regard the miracle as the atoms format.

And what does she do with the sign at the pond? She wedges it behind an overgrown tree trunk. Where sits the good.

Read more reviews and texts by Jonas Thente

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