This omnibus edition collects the four full-length novels from prolific poet, essayist, playwright, and novelist Penelope Shuttle, published between 1969 and 1980. Shuttle’s novels merge poetic language with the novel form unlike virtually anyone else before or since. All the Usual Hours of Sleeping (1969), is a large and dense work, full of rich, poetic imagery, at its heart a love story involving four people. The use of language is taken well beyond its normal descriptive function: bathos where the grossly physical facts of sexual encounters meet the language of myth, or where obscure, slightly comical words are used to describe sexual passion. Wailing Monkey Embracing a Tree (1973) develops this dense poetic language, abounding in imagery, obscure vocabulary, and beguiling rhythms. Rainsplitter in the Zodiac Garden (1978), has a different tone to the previous two: the prose is bleaker, harder and more direct. The story and the prose have a mythic quality and seem to exist in an ahistorical or trans-historical continuum of time and place. The Mirror of the Giant (1980), subtitled ‘A Ghost Story’, has two meanings: Theron is haunted by the ghost of his dead wife Vellet—literally, as Vellet is a character in the novel—and his current wife Beth is metaphorically haunted by her former female lover Ash, whom she has not seen for five years. These four novels showcase Shuttle’s talent for powerful poetic prose at its peak.
“It could be that Miss Shuttle has become the prisoner of her own verbal inspiration, so that the language is telling her what to do. It could be that I have not yet perceived the relation between the rhythm and the story. This is not a book which gives you all it has on one reading. On the contrary, it is designed to be reread.” — Robert Nye
“[H]er opening chapters abound in sentences of excessively wrought luxuriance . . . while her closing ones adopt a tone of more tightly disciplined naturalism.” — Andrew Motion
Release Date: Dec 25 2015. Available from all booksellers and usual online retailers. ISBN: 9789810959821.
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