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Will Eaves is the author of three novels (most recently, This Is Paradise, Picador, 2012) and a collection of poems (Sound Houses, Carcanet, 2011). He was Arts Editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1995 to 2011, and now teaches at Warwick University.
Subtle, experimental and moving, this novel invites multiple readings. Based on Alan Turing’s horrendous experiences as a gay man in early 1950s England, it’s narrated by Alec Pryor, a mathematician and former Bletchley Park cryptographer who’s been convicted of gross indecency after meeting young man Cyril at a fairground. Opting for chemical hormone injections rather than a prison sentence, this novel is Alec’s piercing, heartbreaking journal. His depiction of the fairground at which he meets Cyril is acutely poignant: “It is an erotic place, the fair. Everything about it - the mushrooming appearance, the concentration of energy, the ambush and occupation of common land…This is your chance, it says. Take it!” But for Alec, an erotically charged encounter at the fair leads to his undoing. After enduring chemical castration, Alec’s brilliant mind and deep heart – his very being – unravel. He is not who he was: “When I began to look better, like my old self, after the changing treatment stopped, I seemed to disappear from the inside. I felt as if I’d been replaced.” Necessitating reader devotion and careful consideration of every perfectly placed word, this is a piercingly affecting intellectual and emotional tour de force.
Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2014. The Absent Therapist is a book of soundings, a jostle of voices that variously argue, remember, explain, justify, speculate and meander . . . Sons and lovers, wanderers, wonderers, stayers, leavers, readers and believers...
Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2014'The Absent Therapist is a miniature but infinite novel, and unlike anything I've read before. It's just achingly good.' Luke KennardThe Absent Therapist is a book of soundings, a jostle of voices that variously argue, remember, explain, justify, speculate and meander . . . Sons and lovers, wanderers, wonderers, stayers, leavers, readers and believers: 'The biggest surprise of all is frequently that things and people really are as they seem.' 'These are gripping narratives, with intriguing shifts of register, but they are also technically experimental and daring. Each sentence is weighed, poised. The intelligence with which Will Eaves handles language is modest and rare. The absent therapist is the listening reader to whom this compelling book is a fabulous gift.' Patricia Duncker'The whole book is like someone deeply charismatic and charming daring you not to find them insane. It's wonderful.' Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian'I was gripped and awed by Will Eaves's The Absent Therapist, touching, addictive and unlike any other book.' Thomas Ad s, TLS 'Books of the Year'
The Alldens live in a ramshackle house in suburban Bath. Don and Emily have four children: confident Liz, satirical Clive, shy Lotte, and Benjamin, the late arrival. Together they take the usual knocks, go to work, go abroad, go to university, go to pieces. Don and Emily stick it out, their strong marriage tested by experience and frustrated by love for Clive, the ardent boxing fan at odds with himself, their special child. But then ordinary is special, too, as the Alldens will discover thirty years later when Emily falls ill and her children come home to say goodbye. Their unforgettable story is an intimate record of survival that is clear-eyed, funny and deeply moving.
Will Eaves' first book of poems explores several continents, moods and stages of life. Common experience - of growing up, growing older, losing a parent, being in love, enjoying the natural world in all its nearness and remoteness - provides his themes. Wherever they are set, in the Australian bush or in a West Country sickroom, the poems keep faith with the consolations that come from close observation and stillness. Well-loved authors and books appear suddenly; hair-raising anecdotes and football matches become occasions for elegiac comedy; and, music and domestic ritual raise ghosts. Both formal and informal, funny and sad, these lyrical poems seek out a strangeness in the everyday: in the transformational territory of childhood and the equally uncertain adult world of grief and loss.
An earthquake strikes at the heart of London, its epicenter a theatre where a lavish production of The Tempest has just opened. Thus the scene is set for Will Eaves's gloriously deft tragicomedy of our time. Nothing To Be Afraid Of is both a lament for hope abandoned and innocence betrayed, and an exquisite comic pageant of Shakespearian vitality and compassion: an incidental theatrical history, across the twentieth century, of the art of pretence; of patience, trust and loyalty; of folly in youth and unforgivable old age. `Tender, playful and full of beautifully observed descriptions of growing up and growing old . . . with some terrific comic set-pieces the equal of anything in Waugh and Wodehouse. Now that's good writing' Daily Telegraph `In the case of his novel, Eaves has nothing to be afraid of. This deft, absorbing book more than confirms the promise of The Oversight. Eaves is a master of the dark arts of city fiction. He is to be read, relished and watched very closely' Independent `Nothing To Be Afraid Of provides several coups de theatre . . . [it] is a tragicomic tale of secrets, a drowned daughter, infidelity and mistaken identity . . . It is so clever, so apt, so right that you have no option but to read the novel with its built-in encore all over again. It seems even better the second time round' Sunday Telegraph
In 1983, an ordinary teenager called Daniel Rathbone fell in love, spurned a friend, and stumbled on the ability to see in the dark. On his twenty-fifth birthday, Daniel is bequeathed a second no less unusual gift - a Victorian writing box, the legacy of his father and the repository of his youthful secrets, and of his current feelings of guilt.When a visit from the once-spurned friend, Carey Schumacher, coincides with the death of a contemporary, Daniel's peculiar endowments are enlisted to make lasting sense of lost time and place. From Bath to Brixton, from the 1960s to the 90s, The Oversight follows a trail of thwarted and victorious affections. It is an intently comic tale of vision and delusion; of family, friendship and desertion; and of the divisively cruel need to belong. A multi-layered debut of distinction. 'Deeply impressive... Eaves simply does not put a foot wrong' Evening Standard 'Remarkable... I was so absorbed in the novel, so admiring of its cleverness and poise... a moving , frequently funny and impressive debut' Sunday Times 'Eaves hasn't created a hero who can leap tall buildings, he's created something rarer still: a vivid portrait of a man getting to grips with adulthood' The Face 'Subtle wondrous...intelligence and taste...gems of dry humour...a varied and accomplished first novel' Scotland on Sunday