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Cuddy: Winner of the 2023 Goldsmiths Prize

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Section 2, a stream of consciousness novella about an affair after the building of Durham Cathedral, I enjoyed.

But sections 3 and 4 became tiresome quickly, as we are asked again to switch styles and to abandon characters we had invested in. No, he is not that big, but when he enters you it opens you up so that it feels like the world has a tear in its fabric and white light is beaming through, illuminating, seeking a path. Forbes Fawcett-Black resembles those unfortunate scholars dreamed up by MR James, whose much verbalised confidence in the scientific pursuit of knowledge is no defence against the darker forces they have dismissed as superstition.Combining prose, poetry, play, diary and real historical events, this audacious tour de force from the author of The Gallows Pole and The Perfect Golden Circle traces the story of St Cuthbert - unofficial patron saint of the North of England - through the centuries and the voices of ordinary people. A controversial combination of biography and novel, Richard (2010) was a bestseller and chosen as a Sunday Times book of the year. Loyal monks and shifting bands of followers conveyed Cuthbert’s coffin to Chester-le-Street, where it remained until 995, when Viking invaders again made it necessary to move it to safety. Myers characterisation is excellent and the stories overlap, interlink and echo off each other through the years. The story of Saint Cuthbert, ‘the patron saint of Northern England’ is told through the experiences of a tenth century orphan, Ediva, who is travelling with a band of monks on their long journey with Cuddy’s corpse at the time of the Viking raids, the abused wife of a violent Durham stonemason in the fourteenth century, an Oxford historian straight out of an M R James story attending the opening of Cuthbert’s tomb in Durham Cathedral in 1827 (this section I found less convincing than the others and one particular glaring anachronism served to underline that the narrative voice here wasn’t quite believable) and Michael Cuthbert, a labourer working on the cathedral in 2019.

And all the while at the centre sits Durham Cathedral and the lives of those who live and work around this place of pilgrimage – their dreams, desires, connections and communities. The main sections span the years 995 to 2019, with each story relating to Durham Cathedral, which was founded in 1093 and houses Cuthbert's shrine. Some sections read like non- fiction (literally page after page of direct quotes from reference books), others read like fiction, others like poetry (with floating words and lines mid sentence, italicised stanzas and text getting smaller and larger) and others like pieces of source material with references unusually held within the main body of the text. The final book is the story of Michael, a teenager labourer who in 2017 begins work at the cathedral among the repairs to the medieval masonry.The middle two parts less so though I did enjoy Myers's take on the 19th century epistolary style (well, diary, not letters). Michael’s elegiac, impassioned narrative, with its layered connections back to earlier chapters, sets the seal on a novel that has far more to say about who we are as a nation, where we came from and where we are headed than any number of more self-consciously political “state of England” novels. The novel is divided into four "books", each of which follows a different character in a different century, but all characters have a connection with St. St Cuthbert nicknamed Cuddy is the unofficial patron saint of the North of England and throughout the novel we hear the viewpoints of monks, stonemasons, brewers, cooks, academics, and many more. Michael Cuthbert’s connection with the landscape is of an intensity we might expect from a character in an Alan Garner novel.

He is most definitely in a class of his own and I can't wait to see where his writing takes me next.

The voice of the saint remains with us throughout, there to receive the prayers of those who believe in his legend and longevity. I've read several of Benjamin Myres books and haven't been able to put them down, but not this one, not for me, I'm afraid. The increasingly serious turn taken by this chapter had the effect of removing my doubts, as well as shaking the professor’s loudly proclaimed contempt for the ineffable.

Always and throughout there is the voice of Cuddy, speaking to them in dreams, borne on the wind and in the sound of the sea, passed down the generations through the memories and cherished relics of those who went before.Cuddy is a novel that combines poetry, prose, diary entries and real historical accounts to relate the story of St. My admiration of Benjamin Myers' work is well known, and I think with Cuddy- because it is extremely experimental in style and approach- he has positioned himself more than ever before to be in the running for a longlist nomination on this year's Booker Prize.

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