Wishing to leave behind the quiet isolation of her Orkney island life, Amy Liptrot books a one-way flight to Berlin. Searching for new experiences, inspiration and love, she rents a loftbed in a shared flat and looks for work. She explores the streets, nightclubs and parks and seeks out the city's wildlife - goshawks, raccoons and hooded crows. She looks for love through the screen of her laptop. Over the course of a year Amy makes space hoping for the unexpected. And it comes with an erotic jolt, in the form of a love affair that obsesses her.
There are beautiful descriptions of Berlin as she drifts through the city ... In synopsis this could appear slight, a difficult second album of a book. However, moment by moment, The Instant begins to accrue an extraordinary weight ... Liptrot’s is a brilliant examination of the dangerous power of smartphones ... Liptrot captures the flattening, insulating impact of handheld devices on the experience of travel ... It is a book distracted by everything: the migration of raccoons, stonemasonry, memory fragments, poetry and gnomic utterances. It is a literature produced by a writer with too many tabs open on their laptop, and because of that, it is the truest thing I’ve read in a long time. It feels revelatory to read serious, thoughtful writing on the sorts of experiences that so rarely receive it. The book is particularly sharp on the agony of a relationship’s aftermath in a digital age ... The Instant is the most elegant examination of the internet’s distance pain I have ever read.
A slim, impressionistic, often melancholy work that, along with following her adventures in a new place, grapples with ideas of solitude, romance and a life lived simultaneously online and off. This book is not as substantial as its predecessor, though that is not a criticism ... Liptrot brings the same sharp eye to the urban landscape that she did to the wild environs of Orkney, reporting both on what she sees and the ways it is filtered through her imagination ... Her writing is contemplative, but comes with pleasing flashes of grit and humour ... At the heart of The Instant is a yearning for new experiences, and for love and connection, with all the vulnerability that entails. On the face of it, these are unremarkable impulses but, in this intimate memoir, Liptrot’s achievement lies in making them feel remarkable.
A mark of a good writer is the ability to turn whatever interests them into interesting material for the reader. Scottish author Amy Liptrot’s new book is a case in point ... Liptrot is always engaging; her thoughts considered, the language lucid and judicious ... There is great depth of feeling in her writing, without ever being mawkish ... The tone of the book as a whole; refreshingly honest, written by someone concerned with truth as opposed to perception. Liptrot is a noticer of places, people and words ... The Instant is full of these kinds of strange, perfect descriptions by a writer who knows how to elide multiple worlds to illuminate the truths within each.