Spill Simmer Falter Wither
Sara Baume’s Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a profoundly moving and extremely impressive debut novel. A story about a painfully lonely recluse, his viciously anti-social dog, and their intensely co-dependent relationship, the novel is written with exquisite care and precision. Brought up with only his cold father and the clutter of their house for company, the narrator fears the outside world and the other inhabitants of his seaside town. Left completely alone and alienated following the death of his father, he gains a new companion by adopting an aggressive one-eyed dog, simply named One Eye. The pair form a partnership based on avoiding others: the protagonist’s crippling shyness prevents him from venturing into the community, and One Eye tries to attack any other dog he comes across. The narrator comes to depend on One Eye for company and purpose as much as One Eye depends on him for food and protection.
Sara Baume recently won the Davy Byrnes Short Story Award with the story ‘Solesearcher 1’, and all the painstaking care and quiet fascination that characterised that story is equally prevalent throughout this novel. Baume’s narration precisely details the sights, sounds and smells that define the man and dog’s shared experiences, and in doing so forces the reader to empathise with the strange protagonist. We can’t help but be drawn into this warped world.
Words: Anna-Grace Scullion