An unnamed man goes fishing in the sea in a kayak, hoping to catch something to go with the salad his wife plans to pick for their lunch. He is struck by lightning. He wakes in the water, confused, forgetful, his boat too battered to take him to shore and his body in little condition for a swim. We watch his attempts at survival and wonder, right to the very end, whether he will make it. And with those few sentences we have, in essence, distilled down the plot of Cynan Jones’s fifth book. The sharp ones amongst you readers might be thinking that this doesn’t sound like enough to fill a novel, and you’d be right. This book is just ninety-five pages long, and most of those pages feature more white space than words.
Those who’ve experienced Cynan Jones before, though, will know that he is more about quality than quantity. He’s also more about prose than plot. Emotion over explanation. All of these trademarks are on display in abundance here. And if you like that kind of thing then Cove, and those that came before it, will be a treat for you. If you struggle with writers like Hemingway, McCarthy, and Faulkner, then Jones might not be your cup of tea. All those influences are again on display here, and with each publication Jones moves a little closer to being mentioned beside them.
Any Cop? :£9.99 might seem like a lot to pay for so few sentences. But if you take the quality of those sentences into consideration, then the price might begin to seem a little fairer. Jones is a truly exceptional writer who deserves respect for sticking to his preferred style in an era when authors are under increasing pressure to put those standard length novels on the shelves. Cove might be his best work yet.