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Negative Space Paperback – 7 Feb 2003


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Paperback, 7 Feb 2003
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (7 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330485784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330485784
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,068,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Zoë Strachan was born in Kilmarnock in 1975. She is the author of three novels: Ever Fallen in Love (Sandstone Press, July 2011), Spin Cycle and Negative Space (Picador). Ever Fallen in Love was shortlisted for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards and the Green Carnation Prize and nominated for the London Book Awards. Negative Space won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book of the Year Award. In 2003 The Independent on Sunday listed her in their top twenty novelists under 30, and the Scottish Review of Books selected her as one of their new generation of five young Scottish authors in 2011. Her short stories and essays have been included in numerous journals and anthologies, she contributes journalism to various newspapers and magazines and her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and Radio 3. She has been UNESCO City of Literature writer-in-residence at the National Museum of Scotland, a Hermann Kesten Stipendiaten, a Hawthornden Fellow, a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellow and in 2011 she undertook a British Council visiting fellowship at the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa. Recent works for theatre are Panic Patterns (with Louise Welsh, Citizen's Theatre and BBC Radio Scotland) and Old Girls (which opened the 2009/10 season of A Play, a Pie and a Pint at Oran Mor in Glasgow). Her short opera Sublimation (with composer Nick Fells) toured Scotland in May 2010 with Scottish Opera before going to Cape Town, South Africa in November 2010. The Lady from the Sea, a full-length opera composed by Craig Armstrong and based on the play by Ibsen, premieres at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2012. You can find out more at www.zoestrachan.com

Product Description

Amazon Review

"Making a crematorium too hot. That's what I call insensitive." the narrator of Zoe Strachan's debut Negative Space is full of such sardonic asides, even as she reels with the shock of her younger brother Simon's death, and struggles to cope with his absence. She's a strong woman, whose bluff, tough-talking exterior leads her friends to underestimate the pain she is feeling inside. Unable, and unwilling to find comfort with her family, she returns to a life of anonymity in Glasgow, where depression and a string of empty, alcohol-fuelled encounters convince her finally that her life must change. But this proves impossible in a city whose every windswept corner hides a memory. Then, on a trip to the remote Orkney Islands--part pilgrimage, part escape--the healing process begins, in a way no-one could have predicted. The seemingly pointless death of a talented young man is ultimately rendered meaningful, as his sister discovers a way to continue living.

Negative Space is a powerful, sometimes painful tale, and Strachan's attention to the minutiae of the grieving process is exhaustive. Its chief achievement--and this is no mean feat--is to create a central relationship possessing all the luminous intensity of the best love stories. But this is no romance, nor is there anything predictable about its outcome. Strachan's mission--to write about a love blurred by blood-ties and interrupted by sudden death--demonstrates a courage and an honesty rare in first novels.--Matthew Baylis --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

'A perfect eye for the small detail . . . the first person voice drifts between past and present with astonishing effectiveness. Intimate and real.' -- Independent on Sunday

'A powerful portrait of grief' -- Scotsman

'A sparkling, fantastical tale' -- Eve

'Strachan understands and conveys raw emotion . . . many readers will connect with this sotry' -- Diva

'The author has a wonderful ear for dialogue and the Glasgow parts pin the city exactly' -- Glasgow Herald

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marjan on 1 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
I just came across this book in the library, having heard nothing about the writer. The back sounded interesting enough so i took it home. But what a gem! Really well written and with great insight. This sort of grief must have happened to the writer, or she has done a lot of research. And it's not just sad: it's funny as well!
Don't "listen" to the previous reviewer: just give it a go. if you don't like it, nothing lost, but I reckon a lot of people will.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
...The female narrator (unnamed until the final chapter) has recently lost her twenty-four year old brother Simon to a brain tumour. A life studies model at the Glasgow School of Art, she returns to the city after the funeral and throws herself into a self-destructive regime of heavy drinking and ill-advised, sometimes violent sex with both friends and strangers. As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that this self-destruction is less an attempt to avoid coping with her grief, than it is an inability to confront the basis of her relationship with Simon. It is hinted once or twice that the narrator had a suppressed incestuous feeling for her brother while he was alive.
Throughout the novel Strachan uses the concept of negative space to focus on the character's immense sense of physicality. The fact that she is a life studies model is a clever device underlining this further: the narrator is almost entirely anonymous and passive, and it is no accident that she remains unnamed until the final chapter. As a model, she exists only as a body for others to examine: "I might as well be a bowl of fruit or a wine bottle or whatever." As a grief-stricken young woman, she exists only as a body to be put through the paces of menstruation, sex, hunger and drunkenness. It is only after leaving the city for a trip to Orkney, where she joins her photographer friend Alex at an artists' retreat, that the narrator is able to find the means of both emotional and sexual redemption.
Strachan's style is engagingly informal, and she demonstrates good judgement of tone. There is a danger that first-person narratives of self-harm and bereavement can become self-pitying instead.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bob Grist VINE VOICE on 19 April 2004
Format: Paperback
The book started well, with the young narrators' grief stricken life in Glasgow, coupled with multiple flashbacks, giving us a rich and rewarding read, but then the narrator leaves for an artists' retreat and the story simply degenerates into something akin to the proverbial damp squib (quite apt considering the weather depicted in the area of Scotland the lack-of-action takes place!). I'm not berating the writer's quality of prose, as that is fine and well structured, but very little seems to happen and the last third of the book simply drags. I was hoping for more from the very promising beginnings, but was left somewhat unaffected by the end of the novel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
Zoe Strachan's debut novel is a compelling exploration of a young woman's journey through grief. I felt gripped. Once started I could not put it down.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "jane_davidson" on 20 July 2002
Format: Paperback
The basic premise of Strachans novel is not the type of fiction I would normally read, but the ease with which one associates with the main character is amazing, after reading the first twenty pages I am with her stumbling from the funeral, drinking in the grimey train station bar.
There are many cliches in this novel, but don't let the blurb put you off. Strachen handles them superbly and does not fall into any of the usual ruts.
I could go on about this this novel, but the greatest compliment I can give is that it has made me miss a tube stop more than once, and if anything can keep me on London transport longer than neccesary, it must be good!
Beg, borrow, steal, or buy a copy, your life will be better for it.
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