Joanna Walsh’s Worlds From the Word’s End

Every four hours I tested my temperature. Sanity slips away on that threshold between high fever and very high fever; in the spaces I read. What else? Reading was a clear but dense broth; examined more closely: a complex refinement of Kafka’s and Lydia Davis’s short stories dusted with a little Calvino, known for its nutrient qualities. When the fever ended, the dreams remained, as did the stories of Joanna Walsh in Worlds From the Word’s End.

When the fever was over, I read these stories again and found them possessed by the spectral figures that I recognised from the fiction-induced vivid dreams of my high fever. Walsh lulls us calmly in with apparently simple wordplay but there are horrors here you may not want to possess your waking and sleeping thoughts: that demon who has read all  those neglected books on your bookshelves, or that wonder-awful-place where words go out of fashion.

Like a film director or a painter, for these are stories with high visual depth, Walsh invites us to escape reality for a few hours, or at least acknowledge the possibility that reality is not as we may perceive. On both readings, I found it important to give these stories room to space their shapes, colours and textures, to balance philosophical tendencies, to develop often banal situations. What excited me most were the ideas that exhibit a fine, skilful query into the nature of being in the world.

11 thoughts on “Joanna Walsh’s Worlds From the Word’s End

  1. I’ve had this title sitting on my shelf for weeks. I got it as part if my And Other Stories subscription. Your review has prompted me to move it up in my TBR pile.

  2. Each story is a part of a fascinating existential trajectory that somehow links the work into one text. The ideas contained in that journey are brilliant.

  3. Pingback: Dostoevsky, Dreams, Joanna Walsh (My Week) | Time's Flow Stemmed

  4. I admire you for being able to read a dense broth when you are feverish – I find I overegg even the simplest of phrases and wade through swampy, clingy treacle.

  5. I really liked her Fractals collection and like Melissa have this as part of my And Other Stories subscription. She’s a definite talent. Good to hear that shines out here.

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