It's a long, hot, arid summer; the grass is sparse and Gareth, struggling to continue farming in his west Wales home, wakes to find one of his heavily pregnant cows has wandered away. Another has dropped a stillborn calf, uncomfortably recalling the repeated miscarriages of Gareth's wife, Kate, now nursing only tension and depression. Gareth spends his day wandering in search of the cow, gradually realising that he is avoiding finding her just as he tries to avoid conflict with Kate. Even the demands of usually shared tasks - a difficult calving, a stressful visit from the vet - are not enough to bridge the distance growing between them.
Following the seperate journeys of Gareth, Kate, their teenage son and young daughter through the day, this subtly-crafted novella, its pace as gentle as the ambling cow herself, sets private considerations against life in an agricultural community past and future. Whilst Gareth struggles to retain some dregs of farming life and community tradition in the face of economic, social and linguistic change, stresses at home are further paralleled by conflict with incomers who increasingly impinge on his world. He turns to his father's manuscript memoirs for comfort and inspiration, but family history suggests prophetically that catastrophe alone can bring a resolution.
Sympathetic but never sentimental, within its deceptively narrow compass Cynan Jones's first, remarkable book explores the paradox of emotional isolation suffered by those living in close proximity, the conflicting, interweaving demands of family and farm, the disturbance of old ways by the irruption of the new, and the timeless coexistence of beauty and brutality. Writing from a deep understanding, he gives poetic voice to the survivors of an old way of life.
'The Long Dry is a paean to the corruptibility of flesh. A wee, wonderful book.'
'A serious, thoughtful and, at times, genuinely moving work.'
New Welsh Review
'Bold and punctuated with some scintillating imagery, this is a near perfect debut.'
'(This) story reinvigorated my belief in humanity and in men.'
Tracy Falke, TV Presenter
The Long Dry
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