The Lighthouse

ImageAlison Moore

First Sentence:    Futh stands on the ferry deck, holding on to the cold railings with his soft hands.

Back of the book:

On the outer deck of a North Sea ferry stands Futh, a middle-aged and newly separated man, on his way to Germany for a restorative walking holiday.

After an inexplicably hostile encounter with a hotel landlord, Futh sets out along the Rhine. As he contemplates an earlier trip to Germany and the things he has done in his life, he does not foresee the potentially devastating consequences of things not done.

The Lighthouse, Alison Moore’s first novel, tells the tense, gripping story of a man trying to find himself, but becoming lost.

Quote from the book:

Holding one, he unscrews the top and puts it to his nose and the smell of camphor takes him back to the dark interior of his mother’s wardrobe. It is like being wrenched soul first through time.

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Nuala Ní­ Chonchúir

First Sentence: Twice a year they come here, to her home-place.

As this is a collection of short stories, and not a novel, I have decided to pick my favourite story and give it the ‘first sentence last sentence’ treatment. The above sentence is from ‘Night Fishing’ which appears just after the halfway mark in the book. It’s not even six pages long but it definitely packs a punch and is the one story I kept on thinking about afterwards. In fact most of the stories here are quite short [well, obviously] and yet they all contain so much. The writing is extraordinarily varied with a mixture of first, second and third person narrators; young, old, male and female. Here’s an example of a perfectly realised teenage boy’s voice:

Magda did different versions of me too: back views, side views, full-frontals. They were deadly – I looked like me, but not like myself, if you know what I mean. I was real proud of the painting and it was a good buzz, being at Magda’s, eating her weird cheese and stuff, and drinking coffee and yapping.

( Jackson and Jerusalem ).

These stories are teeming with memorable passages just like that one; here’s a brilliant depiction of a hangover:

I fumble in my head for her name; my throat is clotted with night-old wine and my brain swings in its cave, tharump tharump tharump.

( The Woman in the Waves )

Brilliant. I’d recommend these stories to anyone who enjoys fine writing.

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