Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections: Ben Myers

Ben Myers | 9th December 2019

It’s time once again for the annual series of postings we like to call Shadows and Reflections, in which our contributors and friends look back on the past twelve months. From Ben Myers:

In 2019 I published my new novel The Offing though Bloomsbury, who very generously reissued my three previous novels (The Offing has also spawned a poetry book of the same name, out this month). A non-fiction book, Under The Rock, came out in paperback too. In an unexpected turn of events I then signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records/Books in the US, with The Gallows Pole becoming their first ever novel. The Northumberland/Durham-based psychedelic folk band The Shining Levels then recorded and released a soundtrack to the book, and played some truly memorable shows.

In addition I have also been working with the Nick Drake estate, which has been a huge privilege but such is my longstanding love for Drake’s work – and aware of the need protect his legacy with discretion and good taste – I have kept returning to his music, his lyrics and his life on a weekly basis. Full immersion has been the only way.

Then there has been conversations with the film industry over various potential projects… 

All of this is the stuff of dreams obviously, but has required rather a lot of work – endless rounds of communication, editing, talking, rewriting, interviewing, negotiating, fretting, celebrating, stressing, creating – and I have been engaged in a battle with myself, perpetually attempting to keep fatigue and exhaustion at bay, and not always being successful. Reading this back now, it’s little wonder I nearly lost my head in the summer. I am only just becoming aware that writing – and indeed life – it is not a race and there is no finishing line, nor does anyone know what you can or cannot handle but yourself. In 2020 I hope to do less.

The only escape from my spin cycle mind has been through swimming (the year began with a bracing New Year’s Day morning dip with Rob St John and continued with many swims in an abandoned mill-pond and an exhilarating week’s swimming in the North Sea off Holy Island), gigs (almost all at The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge), walking (I have not done enough) and culture. Especially television. Here then are my cultural highlights of the past 12 months.

The Virtues
This Time with Alan Partridge 
Das Boot
My Brilliant Friend
Ray Donovan
Big Little Lies
The Deuce
Game Of Thrones
Escape At Dannemora
The Crown

Ash Before Oak by Jeremy Cooper
Ghostland by Edward Parnell
Notes Made While Falling by Jenn Ashworth
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
Copsford by Walter JC Murray
Night Boat To Tangier by Kevin Barry
Sudden Traveller by Sarah Hall
Daisy Jones And The Six by Taylor Reid Jenkins
Six by Zaffar Kunial
Leonard And Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession
The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem edited by Jeremy Noel-Todd
Savage Gods by Paul Kingsnorth
Black Car Burning by Helen Mort
This Is Yesterday by Rose Ruane
Ring The Hill by Tom Cox
Afternoons With The Blinds Drawn by Brett Anderson
To The Island Of Tides by Alistair Moffat
You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian  
Ness by Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood
Happening by Annie Ernaux
Glitch by Lee Rourke
White by Bret Easton Ellis
The Alarming Palsy of James Orr by Tom Lee

Fat White Family – Serfs Up!
Black Midi – Schlagenheim
Richard Dawson – 2020
Working Men’s Club – Teeth
The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery
Black Country, New Road – Sunglasses
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Fishing For Fishies
Fontaines DC – Dogrel
Warmduscher – Tainted Lunch
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
Hannah Peel & Will Burns – Chalk Hill Blue
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest
The Futureheads – Powers
Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips
One True Pairing – One True Pairing
School of Language – 45