Other People’s Words

Hello, you. I’ve been trying to settle myself into the final year of my degree. It’s been a little overwhelming. It’s really off-putting having to pack a bag to travel home tomorrow, to work… All the chopping and changing makes it hard to settle!

I zipped through two books in thee last two weeks or so – Bad Timing – Kate Le Vann.

…Bad Timing is a love story, but it’s also about friendship, and how the jealousy and resentfulness that exists between best friends can be as important and difficult as romantic love. What happens is, the heat of the central character’s long-term close friendship brings her tepid new love affair to boiling point.


This book was a welcome escape from full-time work in the brief hiatus before I became a full-time student again, and strangely, because I had coffee in town the day I bought it from a charity shop, my mind roved around the Craft Village’s colourful front doors, wooden stairs and rainy uniqueness while I read about the strange, modern relationship between Lainey and John. It felt nosey knowing about their lives in detail and I loved that a book could make me feel that I was in on their secrets, a fly on the wall.It was often umcomfortably realistic.

Only Say the Word – Niall Williams 

‘Only say the Word’ is a story about acceptance of the past and- as Jim Foley begins to make a fragile peace with himself and the world around him- hope for the future. Deeply felt, beautifully told, and written in Niall Williams’s lyrical lilting prose, it is at once a novel about words, about books, about trying to make sense of grief, and a haunting, intimate testament to the enduring nature of love.

I really enjoyed this book, and Williams’s writing. The grief Jim faces was almost too much for me to bear at one point but the story was too touching to give up on, and the writing to beautiful to ignore. This book made me want to read more, read more ‘meaningful’ or classic books, its casual mentions of thick soups and stews, mugs of tea and thick wedges of currant cake made me regret my lack of cooking skills and flush with embarrassment at my packets of  food. I really emphasized with Jim’s struggle with wanting to be a writer, yet not writing, the words not coming…

“Write more,” she says, “Write, Jim. You have to, you’re a writer. You should be writing.”  But he cannot. No words come. Or rather, thousands of them come, singly and in clusters, at all times of morning noon and night. Fractious. A vapourious smile. The lustre of her intelligence. But nothing comes of them. What is his subject? What is he to write about? He feels at times stricken by a sense that there is something he is supposed to say, something that it is his alone to write. But whatever it is is beyond him.

I often get a lovely word or sentence, and have filled ‘idea books’ without ever getting the big idea for a real book. I found lots of similarities between myself and Jim. And I think Jim and Niall Williams have a lot of similarities too. Both Jim and Niall end up being published…  This book reads as a love letter to Jim’s wife and to literature, and is an absolute pleasure. I hope it isn’t TOO long before I can read something wonderful and pleasurable again.


Author: Fiona


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