Vertigo by Joanna Walsh is the Irish Times Book Club pick for June
‘The stories in Vertigo are by turns funny, surreal, modernist, remaining at all times accessible. Alienated as the voices are, they let the reader in’
The Irish Times on Joanna Walsh: “The stories in Vertigo are by turns funny, surreal, modernist, remaining at all times accessible. Alienated as the voices are, they let the reader in ... Certain themes are woven throughout Vertigo: women as the second sex, consciousness as friend or foe, infidelity, body image, motherhood”
Vertigo by Joanna Walsh is the Irish Times Book Club pick for June.
Reviewing the collection in The Irish Times earlier this year, Sarah Gilmartin wrote: “The stories in Vertigo are by turns funny, surreal, modernist, remaining at all times accessible. Alienated as the voices are, they let the reader in ... Certain themes are woven throughout Vertigo: women as the second sex, consciousness as friend or foe, infidelity, body image, motherhood.”
The Guardian wrote: “Beautifully simple and unembellished, Walsh’s writing – most captivating in its ability to unnerve – is cleverly revealing”; the Literary Review said: “These icy soliloquies of disenchanted womanhood tear up the familiar soft furnishings of fictional narrative...”; and the New Statesman review said: “Walsh is a sublimely elegant writer... Vertigo is artful, intelligent – and elegant above all else.”
Walsh is a British writer and illustrator whose work has featured in Granta and Guernica, as well as being anthologised in the Best British Stories 2014 and 2015. Fiction editor at 3:AM Magazine, she runs the Twitter hashtag #readwomen. Vertigo is her second collection, following the acclaimed Fractals from 2013. Published in America last year by feminist micropress Dorothy – the imprint that launched Virginian author Nell Zink – Vertigo featured on the best-of lists of Flavourwire, The Millions and The Huffington Post. It was published in March by Tramp Press.
The Independent’s review of Vertigo said: “Such is the startling beauty of this book, as bizarre as it is profound, confirming Walsh as a teller worth listening to very carefully indeed... Vertigo could certainly be termed ‘boldly original’, with fresh thoughts and ideas spiralling across every page... a voice which combines emotional frankness with beautifully delicate descriptions.”
Rick O’Shea praised its “sparse stories of honesty and internal alienation... Vertigo is a little thing of hidden beauty, you should seek it out.”
Ian Maleney, in his interview with the author for The Irish Times: wrote: “In short, funny and unclassifiable books, such as Grow a Pair, Hotel and, most recently, Vertigo, Walsh has made the playful exploration of language her primary aim. Whether it takes the form of fiction, essay or lightly pornographic fairy tale, Walsh’s writing is typically investigative and experimental, concerned equally with form and content, and always finding ways to imaginatively marry the two.
“Vertigo is a remarkably intimate book, not in the sense that it divulges the deepest, darkest secrets of its characters, but in the way it presents a series of minds working through some seriously stubborn, knotty questions.
“The stories are inconclusive, their direction and purpose difficult to decipher and their impact subtle but lasting. The reader often occupies a space very similar to the narrator, poised at the edge of a life, watching it go by, understanding that, as Walsh says, ‘there are certain distances from which things just don’t seem to make sense’.
“This rare closeness between reader and narrative voice, the sense of being with that voice rather than being told something by it, is one of the book’s most intriguing achievements.”
Over the next four weeks, we shall publish a series of articles by the author, writers and critics exploring Vertigo, culminating in a live interview with Irish Times journalist Laura Slattery at the Irish Writers Centre on Thursday, June 23rd, at 7.30pm, which will be made available as a podcast on irishtimes.com on June 30th. Readers are invited to read along, comment and engage.