As we slosh through a wet summer it’s good to spend a little time reflecting on water as a vibrant and vivifying thing.
This is a book about gulls, but it’s a good deal else, too: it’s an exploration of waste, a rummaging, bent double and elbows-deep, in human detritus.
Until the flock tilts towards the just-risen sun, I’m not sure what I’m watching, over the arable fields that abut the seashore here.
They are haunted by visions. They are visited by strange dreams. They are the nature writers, and they bring us wisdom from the wilderness.
Maybe, if we cry at books, we cry because we just don’t know what else to do.
Cocker is an unlikely radical in some ways, but at bottom the book he’s written – however measured, equable and intelligent – is a call for revolution.
The weight of the prevailing aesthetic – today favouring the brooding and sublime, the sensitive, the straight-faced – is as heavy as ever.
“Brainwashing” is, above all, a process. It’s not about telling people stuff that’s not true until they simply start to believe it. It twists control dials at a far deeper level than that.
The framing of this debut collection by Dublin-born Hayden is insistently absurdist.