Monday, March 27, 2017

An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It - Jessie Greengrass

Sent to me by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: 23/03/17

Publisher: John Murray

ISBN: 978-1473652040

Format: Paperback, 181pp

Genre: Short Stories

Rating: 4.5/5

Summed up in a word:

First Impressions: I am a huge fan of short stories. I find the intimacy and varied perspectives so interesting. I love it when authors leave the story in a place where you can continue it in your own personal way. Jessie Greengrass is an award -winning author, her debut makes us face the past and acknowledge an uncertain future. To see plenty more exciting 2017 releases please visit John Murray's website:

Book Synopsis:  The twelve stories in this startling collection range over centuries and across the world.

There are stories about those who are lonely, or estranged, or out of time. There are hauntings, both literal and metaphorical; and acts of cruelty and neglect but also of penance.

Some stories concern themselves with the present, and the mundane circumstances in which people find themselves: a woman who feels stuck in her life imagines herself in different jobs - as a lighthouse keeper in Wales, or as a guard against polar bears in a research station in the Arctic.

Some stories concern themselves with the past: a sixteenth-century alchemist and doctor, whose arrogance blinds him to people's dissatisfaction with their lives until he experiences it himself.

Finally, in the title story, a sailor gives his account - violent, occasionally funny and certainly tragic - of the decline of the Great Auk. (Official John Murray Synopsis)

The Review - A compelling, relevant and deeply thoughtful reading experience.
Short stories are my favourite type of fiction as they usually leave the reader to find meaning within each story and even continue it in their own minds way beyond the point the author finished writing. Jessie Greengrass has written twelve important and thought-provoking narratives on the past, present and the future. Each story contains a compelling story that is packed with subtext related to our planet, the way we treat it and the uncertainty of our future. (side note, I am going to shorten the title to 'The Account')

The title story follows a sailor and his ruthless harvesting of wildlife. It outlines the decline of an island that was rich with life and wonder until man arrives and takes what he pleases with no regard for the ecosystem. 'On Time Travel' is a story that takes us to the past and the future. A young girl is filled with grief for her father's passing and is focused on the past because she is unable to dwell on the discomfort of her unknown future. Each story makes the reader pause to contemplate an aspect of our existence. I related to quite a few of these stories, especially 'All The Other Jobs'. I thought for many years that I would just fall into a life that suited me and it took quite a few falls to realise that I need to work hard to get anywhere in life.

'Theophrastus and the Dancing Plague' is probably my favourite story title ever. The story highlights the fact that people can work all their lives but reputation is everything. 'The Account' is great food for thought, each story is entertaining, poignant and gives an insight to many different issues that are present in this modern day culture. I thought JG's written was accomplished and I can see why she is already winning awards. I loved the fact that she has included plenty of unusual and rarely used words. Words like abnegation, epiphenomena, eschatological, quixotic and nebulous to name a few.

Each story is vastly different but all connected by key themes like humanity, uncertainty, intrusion and lack of control. I recommend 'The Account' to readers who like to deeply contemplate what they have read. Those who like fewer words but more depth and meaning. I have given this book 4.5/5 stars because, though it is rather brief, it has stuck with me. I am always looking for books that make me think, consider and give me insights into topics that I don't take time to ponder day-to-day. 'The Account' is worth your time and money. Jessie Greengrass is going places and I can't wait to see what else she is capable of. (She is already working on her second book :D).

Pick up a copy of An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It here: John Murray/Amazon UK/Goodreads #

About the Author: Jessie Greengrass was born in 1982. She studied philosophy in Cambridge and London, where she now lives with her partner and child. An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It won the Edge Hill Prize 2016

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