Other epigraphs

One epigraph for a novel is plenty – and perhaps already too much – but in an attempt to have it both ways, here are some of the big-eyed darlings I had to drown for the new book. First is a quote from Walter Benjamin’s essay on Proust.

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From Lispector’s Near to the Wild Heart (tr. Alison Entrekin)

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And Goethe’s poem ‘Above the mountaintops’

Goethe epigraph

Herald Review

There’s a review of The False River in The Herald newspaper today.

The False River

Nick Holdstock

Unthank, £9.99

The Willesden Herald Short Story Prize might not sound glitzy, but it allows Nick Holdstock’s story “Ward” (in which a teenage girl’s cancer diagnosis changes the course of her life) to be described as award-winning, which feels deserved. And judging by the quality of these stories, it won’t be his last accolade. Short story collections are often front-loaded with the best work, but The False River actually becomes more compelling as it goes along. His ease with dark and transgressive themes (animal-lovers should skip past “The Ballad of Poor Lucy Miller”) brings to mind a young Ian McEwan, but Holdstock is a multi-faceted writer who often seems to be urging his stories to break free of the frames surrounding them and even alters one character mid-story because he doesn’t like the direction it’s going. But mostly this accomplished collection is driven by a burning curiosity about the psychological states of its characters, and it should put him firmly on the literary map.


My first collection


The False River is out now.

With thanks to the publications in which some of this work first appeared – especially the Manchester Review, the Southern Review, and the Willesden Herald. I’m also grateful to editors like Emily Nemens (formerly of the Southern Review, now Paris Review Fiction Editor), Tom Vowler, and especially the late Jeanne Leiby, who was my first editor at the Southern Review, and offered me encouragement at a crucial time.

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