Spent Light

Lara Pawson


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CB editions
1 January 2024
ISBN: 9781739421229
144 pages

From the publisher

A woman contemplates her hand-me-down toaster and suddenly the whole world erupts into her kitchen, in all its brutality and loveliness: global networks of resource extraction and forced labour, technologies of industrial murder, histories of genocide, alongside traditions of craft, the pleasures of convenience and dexterity, the giving and receiving of affection and care.

‘“Everything in this damned world calls for indignation,” the woman says at one point. All of it’s there, all interconnected, and she can’t stop looking. The likeness between a pepper mill and a hand grenade, for example, or the scarcely hidden violence of an egg timer.

‘And what if objects knew their own histories? What if we could allow ourselves to see those weird resonances, echoes, loops, glitches, just as Pawson does so beautifully and unnervingly here?

Spent Light asks us to begin the work of de-enchanting all the crap we gather around ourselves to fend off the abyss – because we’ll never manage that anyway, the book warns, the abyss is already in us. But love is too. There might be no home to be found in objects, but there’s one to be made with other people. I think, in the end, this powerful, startling book is a love letter.’
– Jennifer Hodgson

‘I’m flabbergasted by the naked determination on show here, not to say the talent. Page by page, image by image, association by association, Lara Pawson develops a picture of the world that you won’t be offered anywhere else: stark, unremitting, brilliantly formed and written.’
– M. John Harrison

‘A shocking book. Lara Pawson’s merciless and exquisite prose adorns everyday objects with the violence of history – the savage comedy by which living creatures have become broken, petrified things. I will never look at a toaster or a timer, a toenail or a squirrel, the same way again.’
– Merve Emre