Granta 159: What Do You See – felt like a return to some of its basic strengths – memoir and reportage – evoking disquiet and a sense of familiarity.
The issue starts with a reportage piece by William Atkins piece on Sizewell C power station. This is timely in that the new site in 2022 has been now formally approved by the government. The human story from the view of residents presents an more complicated angle that is often lost in the noise. The fact that Sizewell C has now been approved shows how these national projects, when all the pieces of the jigsaw are lined up, are doomed to happen.
Ishion Hutchisonn shares a diary of a journey to Senegal, in which a revered writer is located It has a partly a fond memories-like visit to an old friend, partly a saddened encounter with how that old friend has deteriorated – places in Senegal that had been engulfed in rubbish strewn around the roads and rivers. The delicate prose is a delight “the sea at night is a dance floor with the occasional foaming.”
I also enjoyed Alejandro Zambra’s memoir in how he eloquently tells of the time when he and his father were mugged – a story that is passed from generation to generation taking on apocryphal qualities.
Rebecca Sollum presents a curious tale in National Dress of a girl who finds herself witnessing the life of a young queen. I was not sure to what extent it was plausible.
Maxim Osipov in An English Opening takes us on an entertaining journey with ageing men and their chess hobby. Towards the end is The Kingdom of Sand – an informative look at living in the heart of Florida – a familiar tale of life in a town where we eventually outgrow it.
Low points included the forgettable Being in the World by Geogg Dyer, and Lars Horn’s non fiction memoir about her artist mother. A disjointed memoir to the point of lacking focus. At times Lars talks about the photography where Lars had to play dead, and then about childhood in general. I was not sure where the piece was going.