Published by Sandstone Press
ebook & paperback: 20 April 2017
Category: Literary Fiction
It’s a pleasure to be starting off the blog tour for Making Space. I really wish I was able to fit this book into my reading schedule as I really do need to make space – for everything! As I haven’t had time to read and review, I have a guest post on a subject which is almost too painful to mention – a book cull!
The Book Purge
by Sarah Tierney
Erik, one of the central characters in Making Space, is a book hoarder. And although I have never owned as many books as he does, I used to have far more than was sensible for someone living in a small room in a shared house.
At that time, I was working as a book reviewer and my favourite part of the job was opening the post: those padded A5 envelopes containing the latest novels and a press release. Shiny new books, all for me. The longer I had this job, the more I accumulated. I was in my twenties and moved house a lot, but I lugged them all, and all the magazines containing my reviews, from one place to the next, for years.
Boxes and boxes of them, up and down narrow stairways, cramming them into any space I could find in one rented room after another.
I didn’t read the books more than once. In time, I didn’t even want them. And I definitely didn’t want to be carrying them around for the rest of my life. But still, I didn’t get rid of them. They were mine, but more than that, they were me. They were what I did and who I was.
Until, one day, they weren’t. That day I took all the magazines to the Council tip and almost all the books to a second-hand bookshop, where I swapped them for credit which I spent on greetings cards. (If there was one thing I didn’t need in my life right then, it was more books.)
So what brought about that change? That sudden ability to look at the hundreds of books and magazines and say: No more. Be gone. Stop following me around every place I go.
It came with the end of a relationship which had also gone on too long. It had dominated my life for years, wearing me out emotionally, playing havoc with friendships and work, eventually leading me to move back in with my mum while I found somewhere to live.
‘You’ll leave when you leave,’ a friend had said to me when I was in that relationship, foreseeing that it was a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.
I think you hold on to stuff until keeping it becomes harder than letting it go. And you don’t know when you’re going to reach that tipping point until it happens.
Leaving the relationship was hard but getting rid of the books and magazines wasn’t. Without even noticing it happen, I’d grown into a different person to the one who’d seen them as a part of who she was.
Now I can barely remember what books they were. I just know that they were heavy and burdensome and too much to keep carrying around.
I sometimes go into that shop and see books that used to be mine. I pick them up, put them down, then buy something else, usually just a postcard. Something small and light, and designed to be given away.
About the book:
‘Why do we hold onto things we don’t need?’
Miriam is twenty-nine: temping, living with a flatmate who is no longer a friend, and still trying to find her place in life. She falls in love with Erik after he employs her to clear out his paper-packed home. They are worlds apart: he is forty-five, a successful photographer and artist and an obsessive hoarder still haunted by the end of his marriage. Miriam has an unsuccessful love life and has just got rid of most of her belongings. Somehow, they must find a way to reach each other.
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What others are saying:
‘A beautifully assured debut that is part love story, part psychological slow-burner. Tierney’s characters sing with a dark, sharp, tender realness. Combining exquisite descriptions with scalpel-sharp human insights, this is a book to languish in, and emerge from deeply moved. It marks the arrival of an elegant and thrilling new voice in literary fiction.’
-Emma Jane Unsworth
About the author:
Sarah Tierney is a graduate of the MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University. Her short story, ‘Five Miles Out’, was made into a short film by the acclaimed director Andrew Haigh. Sarah has worked as a journalist, editor and copywriter. She lives in Derbyshire with her husband and daughter.