Rob Cowen: Common Ground

common ground

This is beautifully written. I’ve been trying to compare it with other novels I’ve read, but in fact it reminds me of nothing so much as the sublimely lyrical songwriting of Nancy Kerr – who, coincidentally, was the person who gave this book to me.


‘Common Ground’ is the story of a man slowly exploring a patch of land. I had a couple of moments, near the beginning, of wondering how on earth this concept was going to sustain my interest for 300 or so pages; but then I was caught in the series of stories, poems and vignettes which are beautifully distinct, and which hang together perfectly.

The threads running throughout are about nature and urbanity, about the lies we tell ourselves about our modern, ‘civilised’ world, the fragility of of the barriers we construct, the harsh accessibility of the world outside. It is nature, red in tooth and claw, the greenness of shoots pushing through concrete, and the endless cycles which defy our best attempts to ignore them.

It is also a raw, fragile, emotional story of survival, revealing both deep humanity and primal nature, and how those things are not in contradiction with each other but merely different ways of describing the same experience.

Highly recommended. Thank you, Nancy.


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