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Seriously excellent

Nine Island - Jane Alison

I guess this book could be filed under 'auto fiction' - an autobiographical 'fiction' - a genre which I find myself drawn to. Recent examples are Ben Lerner's two wonderful non-poetry books 'Leaving the Atocha Station' and '10:04' , Karl Ove Knausgaard of course with his massive six-volume story of his life - of which I have read the five so far translated into English, Nell Zink's books possibly, Teju Cole's 'Open City', Sheila Heti's 'How Should a Person Be?', that book about Malmo by a Swedish woman who now lives in Australia I read recently - to name a few recent examples. Even the book I am supposedly working on and might never finish... don't want to finish...

Anyway, this book, Nine Island, is possibly the best book I have read for some time. Nothing much happens and what does happen is pretty mundane really for the most part (although there is a kind of shock near the end). It is about an approx 45yr old woman - the author herself in fact - living high up in a block of flats on the Florida coastline, going for walks, swimming, meeting neighbours, reminiscing about men - and possibly realizing she is OK on her own. Other characters are generally referred to just by their first name initials which adds to the feeling of it being autobiographical with the need to keep others' identities confidential. The protagonist/author is a lucky thing - I wish I was on my own. Just to be so alone somewhere by the sea, not lonely - I love being on my own... But, maybe the reality would not be as wonderful as my fantasy. It must be the way it's written, the quirky details of living in a high-rise block, and what she sees looking into nearby high-rise blocks. There's a duck, seemingly marooned on a small rough patch of grass that she looks after and periodically tries to catch so she can take it to a more suitable home - even contacting a couple of other duck bothering locals to help her 'liberate' the animal. I won't reveal the outcome of this venture. If you like this kind of book, I urge you to try it - possibly more a female read I feel (I am a man by the way, but I seem to read as many books by women as men which, apparently, is unusual for a male). I wonder what author Jane Alison feels about the book? Is it closely based on a part of her life? Anyway, loved it, loved it - I savoured reading it. It's quite a short book, with many short chapters.