RaveThe TimesThe story is relayed with a matter-of-fact style suggesting Pine’s need to keep a distance from her father. It also makes the casual childhood cruelties, mentioned in equally casual fashion, all the more arresting ... By depriving herself of self-pity, Pine gives the reader space to experience real empathy ... Such is the strength of the opening essay that, were it followed by 150 blank pages, this book would still be worth buying. As it turns out, the second inclusion, From the Baby Years, is equally strong — I cried twice reading it ... Pine is fascinating and relatable throughout. As soon as you think you know her, she reveals another side. In the best testament of a good book, I have already recommended this to several people.
PositiveThe Sunday TimesIn Feel Free...Nick Laird’s fourth collection, the Northern Irish poet, novelist and former lawyer finds himself entering the heartland of middle age. It’s bittersweet for the writer but rewarding for the reader, as Laird considers the reality of having a child young enough to be bottle-fed and parents old enough to die ... There is a satisfying masculinity to the collection, be it a male perspective of a traditionally female act—such as feeding a baby—or the boyish humor seen in certain wordplay ... Some poems take a cheerfully apathetic look at middle age—such as \'The Cartoons and Team Me\'—and others are wholly romantic. \'In the midst of our lifelike life/I come to this fork in your hand,\' begins \'La Méditerranée,\' while \'Incantation\' borrows lines from Frank O’Hara and Kurt Vonnegut to make something particularly beautiful.
RaveThe Times (UK)Like its predecessors, the novel is concerned with the vulnerable, unspeakable and furious aspects of masculinity and is in Ryan’s distinctive colloquial style. The prose is laced with compassion and quiet emotion ... It is in the final 28 pages that the three strands, which sway in the same melancholic wind but rarely collide, are blown together in a gust of pacey, heart-wrenching action—and you realise they were destined to knot all along. The denouement, which comes in breathless bursts, is devastating. From a Low and Quiet Sea leaves you with that sense of discombobulating enlightenment that so often characterizes the quiet epiphanies of great short stories.