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Review of Paul Becker’s How We Made ‘The Kick Inside’ by Dan Fox, on his substack ‘Keep All Your Friends’  ︎

Review of Lucie McLaughlin’s ‘Suppose a Collapse’ in Spam Zine ︎

Review of Suppose A Collapse in Friday Critique. Queen’s University Belfast, Seamus Heaney Centre ︎

Suppose A Collapse, by Lucie McLaughlin by Tiegan Johnston

“It was otherworldly from the beginning”, the opening line of Lucie McLaughin’s mixed-media book encapsulates not only the speakers experience of oscillating between two entirely different cities but also the experience of reading this work.

Suppose A Collapse follows an unnamed speaker between Belfast and Madrid, where she meditates on her relationship with her mother, absent father and extended family. Fluid, perplexing and indefinable – this piece resists interpretation. McLaughlin’s writing is controlled, considered and poignant as she takes the reader on a journey, moving not only spatially, but through memoir, prose and poetry. The voice remains strong and confident, as it battles with definitions of the self: “Successful immersion means the body isn’t knowable, or someone that you know”. The stream of consciousness is vividly constructed throughout the text, as it moves from solid blocks of prose to deconstructed lines floating across the page: “It hurts, I said. It’s like the storm in my head broke the thunder directly above my flat, the lightning half a second before.”

In contrast to this, McLaughlin’s writing is also incredibly plainspoken and to the point; she references art, literature and film, reviewing it for the reader with great depth and precision. And this seems like a trick to divert the reader – a performance arranged to obscure the depth of emotional exploration that’s at the core of this book: “I am directing a performance for all the people of my life.”

Art is how the speaker attempts to make sense of her world, of that which is absent, and in the same way this text is a guide for readers who feel a lack in theirs. And this is apt, as absence, what is not discussed or cannot be, is the hinge of Suppose A Collapse as it ponders: “Maybe art is the place to become obsessed with lack, with absence.”




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