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Book Review: tearing at thoughts by Andy Harrod

tearing at thoughts

Poignant, heart rending and thought provoking writing.

I first read and reviewed the original, online only, edition of this book several years ago. And now there’s a second edition – this time available in print and the author has added some new material.

I loved it first time around and I love this version even more. The writing remains poignant, heart rending and thought provoking.

tearing at thoughts is made up of pieces of short fiction, some of the pieces are very short and reminiscent of haiku, many of them are poetic. The tone is so intimate that, at times, the reader can feel like a voyeur, like they should look away but can’t.

The writing is a stream of responses to consciousness. Sometimes the thoughts are fleeting, and at other times they are prolonged and complex. They are all responded to by the writer. Sometimes the author’s tearing is minimal and the thoughts are simply stated, nudged, worried at. At other times the thoughts are more deeply examined, set in context and ripped apart. It operates on two levels – the physical which varies from a gentle caress to a visceral assault – and the psychological which varies from nudge to probe

The moods of the pieces vary. The fonts, shapes, layouts and presentation vary too. Some are beautiful, comforting and benign. Others are beautiful, disturbing and terrifying.

This is a book that requires to be engaged with and revisited. Reading it is akin to reading poetry, or looking at a painting or listening to a piece of music. You need to read, reflect and then return. Revisiting and further pondering will be rewarded as more and more of what Harrod is saying becomes more and more apparent.

The writing explores what it is to be human, to experience love and loss, to deal with ‘the grapple hook of grief’ but also to remain hopeful. Harrod seems to suggest that life’s setbacks aren’t so much to be recovered from as to be accepted – and that acceptance comes from living in the present while holding the past and future in a precarious balance. His writing indicates that we must carry our pain and loss with us but that we should do it balanced by and alongside our love and our hope.

My favourite pieces from the book remain Love Letters to the Mind (both parts), which I liked for its poignancy and truth and Mist and Trees which I enjoyed as a story and for its evocation of the work of psychologist R.D. Laing.

The book is beautiful in its brevity and it is packed full of human truth. It’s a challenging and rewarding read.

tearing at thoughts is published by Decoding Static and is available as a paperback.

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