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10 thoughts on “Beastings

  1. says:

    I had to up my rating of Beastings I d given it 4 stars upon finishing the book, but I haven t stopped thinking about it since Or talking about it So that s not just a 4 star book in my book Highly recommend Everyone should read this.


  2. says:

    Review originally published at Learn This Phrase.At the beginning of Beastings, I enjoyed the narrative for all the reasons I expected to its rawness, the sparse and visceral language, and a cold and bleak and painful evocation of the English landscape, portrayed with greater emphasis on its harshness and wildness than its beauty For several chapters it s near impossible to tell what time period the story is taking place in could be medieval times, could be a post apocalyptic future Adding t Review originally published at Learn This Phrase.At the beginning of Beastings, I enjoyed the narrative for all the reasons I expected to its rawness, the sparse and visceral language, and a cold and bleak and painful evocation of the English landscape, portrayed with greater emphasis on its harshness and wildness than its beauty For several chapters it s near impossible to tell what time period the story is taking place in could be medieval times, could be a post apocalyptic future Adding to the folkloric feel, the characters remain nameless The girl , having taken the baby from a family she was working for, is on the run Fleeing across open ground with few provisions, she relies largely on the shelter and food provided by nature in order to survive she receives help from a handful of strangers, but she is mute, and so unable as well as unwilling to forge a connection with anyone she meets In pursuit of her are the Priest and the Poacher The Priest is a corrupt man, without conscience or pity, determined to capture the girl for reasons far beyond her abduction of the child the Poacher simply hired to help him, with little investment of his own in their mission The girl s history is revealed in fragments as she remembers scenes from her life before this escapeshards of pain than real memories, with barely a scrap of happiness to provide relief The Priest s story, and his motivation, is made clearer during his terse conversations with the Poacher None of the characters are spared any discomfort violence is never far away There s little punctuation, and speech intermingles with the rest of the text, enhancing the unique presence of the landscape in the story and constantly shifting the reader s focus back to simple instincts and actions The title, beastings , refers to the first milk drawn from a mother s breast, but the word beast and its variations appear frequently throughout the book, and the way the story concentrates on its characters animalistic behaviour whether performed out of necessity or by choice is impossible to ignore Is it awful to admit I didn t like this book as much as I could have because I could not have cared less what happened to the girl and the baby It didn t matter to me whether they were caught by the Poacher and the Priest, or whether they died or what The girl and the Poacher annoyed me, and that only left the almost comically evil Priest Scenes ostensibly demonstrating the girl s ingenuity failed to make an impact on me because she never seemed like anythingthan a symbol a foil of purity and good intentions to offset the maliciousness of the Priest As the story wore on, I found myself hoping the Priest would survive and succeed purely because his presence provided the only spark of real interest among the characters I don t intend to discuss certain events towards the end view spoiler the girl s rape and magical insta pregnancy hide spoiler in any detail I ll just say I felt they were unccessary and I didn t see what message the author was trying to convey here Beastings is well crafted admirable in its use of stripped down language and sharp, minimal dialogue In several ways it reminded me of Katherine Faw Morris sYoung GodThe story may be very different, but the narrative is equally bare and muscular, and here again is the tale of a young, abused girl trying to survive on her own Unlike Young God, this novel has a tragic ending, but it s similarly shocking, abrupt, desolate Like an American Southern Gothic tale set against the violent beauty of Northern England , says the blurb and it s accurate but Beastings joins the ranks of books I admired rather than liked


  3. says:

    I have a penchant for stories told in strong, distinctive voices using sparse, pared back prose and Benjamin Myer s Beastings certainly ticks all those boxes.This simple tale is essentially a chase novel in which a priest enlists the help of a poacher to pursue a young woman who s stolen a baby This cat and mouse game occurs on foot across the wild, weather beaten landscapes of northern England across the space of a few days And believe me when I say it s real heart in mouth stuff for all of i I have a penchant for stories told in strong, distinctive voices using sparse, pared back prose and Benjamin Myer s Beastings certainly ticks all those boxes.This simple tale is essentially a chase novel in which a priest enlists the help of a poacher to pursue a young woman who s stolen a baby This cat and mouse game occurs on foot across the wild, weather beaten landscapes of northern England across the space of a few days And believe me when I say it s real heart in mouth stuff for all of its 280 pages.This book reads like a thriller but it also has all the elements of a Gothic horror story dark woods, strange noises in the night, danger at every turn and a deranged man hellbent on finding his quarry dead or alive.To read my review in full, please visit my blog


  4. says:

    Beautifully written Couldn t put down Got my heart beating very fast at times Will be looking out forfrom Benjamin Myers.


  5. says:

    In the past year or so I ve become quite a fan of Benjamin Myers fiction First with his novel Pig Iron , a violently anti pastoral story of a young man trying to lift himself above of family history and reputation in a region of England provides him belonging and oppression at once Then it was Myers novella Snorri Frosti , the story of two woodcutter brothers in which language, plot, character, and place are stripped to Beckettish absurdity and abstraction but and this is what so i In the past year or so I ve become quite a fan of Benjamin Myers fiction First with his novel Pig Iron , a violently anti pastoral story of a young man trying to lift himself above of family history and reputation in a region of England provides him belonging and oppression at once Then it was Myers novella Snorri Frosti , the story of two woodcutter brothers in which language, plot, character, and place are stripped to Beckettish absurdity and abstraction but and this is what so impressed me in that short work in a manner that heightens rather than loses the sense of lives tightly tethered to place and landscape and labor.Myers new novel his fourth, though I haven t yet read his first two Beastings finds a fertile middle ground of sorts between Pig Iron and Snorri Frosti The northern English landscape is richly evoked in all its stark beauty and soggy hardship, as it was it in Pig Iron, while the characters are complex despite in most cases despite being left without names and known only as the Priest, the Poacher, the baby, the girl And, as in the novella, that stripping away makes them stand outsharply rather than less, which is also the case for the novel s vivid yet not quite defined place and time It s a setting given enveloping presence if not always a name He walked on behind the Priest listening to the muted melody that the breeze played across the fells and the strange harmonies it created around rocks and he heard the screech of a bird a kestrel by the look of it high above them He thought he could hear running water somewhere too and then the insistent bleating of a sheep and then a few few moments later the satisfied guttural groan of a cow a long way ahead of them and then a little while after that the screech of two crows first quarreling and then tumbling together and beneath it all undercutting it all the scrape and swish of his oilskin the panting of the dog and reedy raspy breathing of the Priest.There s no silence out here Father he finally said but because it was uttered so quietly and the Priest offered no response the Poacher wondered whether he had even spoken the words out loud at all.Beastings is a story of one character s escape the girl has made off with the baby and of her pursuit by the Priest and the Poacher Escape and pursuit through the wild, animal stuff, and evocative of other novels from classics like Robert Louis Stevenson s Kidnapped and Ian MacPherson s Wild Harbour to the contemporary like Daniel Woodrell s Winter s Bone and Bonnie Jo Campbell s Once Upon A River It achieves an impressive weaving of voice, action, and landscape, as the prose becomesraw and primal reminding me of a similar technique in James Dickey s Deliverance as the risk increases and the longer the girl suffers through the wilderness struggling to meet even the most basic needs She is pared down to pure action, and impulse Broth for the baby Potato for herself.Then she swapped it and gave some of the cooked potato to the baby and took some soup for herself.Potato for the baby, broth for herself.Potato then broth The fire crackling.Potato then broth Blowing on the embers.When the potato was done she folded the skin and put it away for later They finished the broth.The girl scraped the tin Contorted her tongue Lapped at it.The girl threw bracken onto the fire to kill the glow but not the heat.It started smoking then but she liked the smell it made so left it a while even though it was making her eyes water.The baby belched.So did she.The baby slept.So did she.Beastings, like Pig Iron, is a violent novel Inevitably so, once characters and events are set in motion, but as far off as we might see that violence and brutality coming it always arrives as a shock because, perhaps, of the false sense of pastoral comfort the reader can occasionally slip into as we walk through this sublime landscape via the suffering of others But there s always a risk in forgetting to take a wild place seriously, and the same goes for wild people and in this case a wild novel, because Beastings is very much that as capable of shock and surprise and vicarious pain for its reader as the most dangerous of places It s no escape, this story, no still green place to rest in and no reassuring, predictable tale of outdoor adventure, but it is something much better than that


  6. says:

    When I snuff you out I will cover the heavens and all the stars will darken said the priest And that ll learn you.Beastings is a mighty read Even on a Kindle you can feel the weight of it in your hand It tells the story of a chase across the Lake District as a priest and his poacher guide attempt to track down a young mute girl and the baby she has taken from its home.The girl in question is escaping a history of pain and misery in the hands of her pursuer Her life was destroyed by the pries When I snuff you out I will cover the heavens and all the stars will darken said the priest And that ll learn you.Beastings is a mighty read Even on a Kindle you can feel the weight of it in your hand It tells the story of a chase across the Lake District as a priest and his poacher guide attempt to track down a young mute girl and the baby she has taken from its home.The girl in question is escaping a history of pain and misery in the hands of her pursuer Her life was destroyed by the priest and she was sent to work as a nanny to a family in a home packed with bitterness, disease and hate When the baby s well being became threatened, the girl decided to take her away to safety In doing so, she discovers a new meaning to the world and a finds a hope that is as bright and as fleeting as the sunrise With no resources, she learns to live from the land and to accept the kindness of strangers.Meanwhile, the priest enlists the help of a poacher and sets of in pursuit The motives for the chase are entirely self centred as the priest needs to keep his abuses in the home for girls quiet He s even scared to sleep in the presence of others as he talks in his sleep and can t afford to let any clues about his life slip from his mouth He s dark to the core and ranks up there with the most unpleasant characters I ve ever met on the page The fact that he is a man driven by his religious zest and who can articulate his philosophies to his own end make him evenfrightening than even his actions suggest His steady decline as he indulges in his addiction for the marching powder that fuels his zeal only adds further to his menace His conversations with the poacher are intoxicating The poacher is at one with the landscape and sees the world through practical eyes He s a great contrast to the priest and the pair s arguments are extremely entertaining They also highlight the bleak and sparse writing style of the book, one that echoes the rugged and stony terrain in which they travel The humour is pointed as flint, the priest s lack of emotion as cold as exposed Cumbrian rock The material of the book makes it difficult at times and it certainly isn t for the faint hearted To me, the harrowing nature of many aspects of the story simply made itenticing The chase itself is gripping, but there s so muchto hold your attention than that The dialect is superb The dialogue is a treat to experience The description of the area and of the way humans interact with it is beautiful The battle between the nascent hope and the poisonous power of the inevitable is compelling The climax was a total surprise to me and tattooed itself on the inside of my brain when I reached the end Beastings is a gem It s a book that deserves to be read and appreciated There are many flavours to the writing and I suspect there are a host of literary and poetic influences which Myers collects and shakes to create a cocktail that is all of his own.Highly recommended


  7. says:

    This is one of those books difficult to fit into a category That interests me initially As the main character is 16 years old it could fit into the coming of age genre Certainly it is historical, and though the year is never revealed my estimate would be the early 1900 s Also it is dark, so it could go in noir The fells and weather of the eastern Lake District enhance that mood Myers spares nothing in his descriptions in thegruesome scenes, if which there are several.The setting This is one of those books difficult to fit into a category That interests me initially As the main character is 16 years old it could fit into the coming of age genre Certainly it is historical, and though the year is never revealed my estimate would be the early 1900 s Also it is dark, so it could go in noir The fells and weather of the eastern Lake District enhance that mood Myers spares nothing in his descriptions in thegruesome scenes, if which there are several.The setting is appealing, especially to me, living very close the eastern fells As is the theme of anti religion which is clear throughout There are a few novels recently that do this commentaries on the established church of the day A few have come out of the US Donald Ray Pollock amongst several others , but less form the UK There is some good humour also Notably with the character of the Poacher, and his interactions with the Priest Reminders at times of the humour in the great The Sisters Brothers


  8. says:

    Loved this book The narrative style with lack of punctuation makes if compelling reading and encourages reading at pace, it also adds to the strangeness of the story Although some descriptions in the story suggest it s set in the last century, this feels like an ancient tale, as old as the hills it so brilliantly brings to life The girl in the story could be a sheep, lost in the fells, desparately trying to find shelter but aware of the fox on its tail The writing is visceral, and brutal in Loved this book The narrative style with lack of punctuation makes if compelling reading and encourages reading at pace, it also adds to the strangeness of the story Although some descriptions in the story suggest it s set in the last century, this feels like an ancient tale, as old as the hills it so brilliantly brings to life The girl in the story could be a sheep, lost in the fells, desparately trying to find shelter but aware of the fox on its tail The writing is visceral, and brutal in places with the violence coming suddenly, though not unexpectly as there s tension from the start I was gripped throughout Not a book for the squeamish though


  9. says:

    I needed to catch my breath before writing down my thoughts on this dark, visceral, unnerving book This is my second book by Benjamin Myers, who I am discovering will likely be among my favorite writers Beastings is a timeless tale of evil It opens with a priest and a poacher in a woods so dark they can t see their hands in front of their faces and the preacher certain he hears an infant crying, but it s not a baby, the poacher assures him, it s the awful sound of foxes mating This unsettlin I needed to catch my breath before writing down my thoughts on this dark, visceral, unnerving book This is my second book by Benjamin Myers, who I am discovering will likely be among my favorite writers Beastings is a timeless tale of evil It opens with a priest and a poacher in a woods so dark they can t see their hands in front of their faces and the preacher certain he hears an infant crying, but it s not a baby, the poacher assures him, it s the awful sound of foxes mating This unsettling sound and confusion in the pitch black of night sets the tone of the book We next meet the runaway and the infant with whom she is escaping We learn of the girl s hope of making it to an island where she heard there are no serpents, where she and the baby can be safe and happy Over the course of the story we learnabout the why the girl ran and why she took the child Mostly we learn the depths of depravity to which a man can descend and how he justifies it, and what it does to a child when a whole town turns a blind eye There are only a few clues as to when this book is set, which not only added to feeling of being lost and disoriented, but also spoke to the nature of evil, which is universal and timeless Ben Myers prose borders on poetic, and, as in The Gallows Pole, I felt that I was no longer in my suburban home Mr Myers puts one in the scene I felt that I was struggling, hungry, exhausted, and desperate through the woods and over fells.This is not a light read, it is suspenseful, unsettling, at times ugly, and only a few times times hopeful, but I highly recommend it Now I m going to read Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers


  10. says:

    Benjamin Myers Beastings follows the pursuit of a young mute girl and the baby she abducted by a vengeful priest and the poacher who acts as his guide through the bleak mountains of Northern England The writing, like the landscape the novel is set in, is bare Most characters are unnamed The priest is the Priest , the poacher the Poacher The girl s name pops up at some stage, but she remains she , or the girl all the same Likewise, we can gather that the action takes place sometime in Benjamin Myers Beastings follows the pursuit of a young mute girl and the baby she abducted by a vengeful priest and the poacher who acts as his guide through the bleak mountains of Northern England The writing, like the landscape the novel is set in, is bare Most characters are unnamed The priest is the Priest , the poacher the Poacher The girl s name pops up at some stage, but she remains she , or the girl all the same Likewise, we can gather that the action takes place sometime in the late nineteenth century, but clues are few and far between, and much of the book could well be set a century earlier or later.This careful vagueness gives the story an almost fairy tale like atmosphere, if fairy tales were that graphic and relentless The characters, those already mentioned and a couplewho appear for a few pages, are starkly drawn Myers great achievement is how vividly he manages to show them and their past, their motivations, making us believe in the inevitability of the brutal events we witness Beastings is anything but a feel good book and of the tough choices they make The girl and the baby face starvation while fleeing from the obsessed, psychopathic Priest and there are many violent episodes, but the reader this one, anyway is compelled to read on.Landscape is another of Beastings characters, and Myers has to be praised for casting it in such a prominent role, for doing for the Cumbrian mountains what isoften done by American writers and film makers.This is beautiful writing, and a very confident voice that will definitely make me look forMyers on bookshop shelves Review originally posted in The Prairie Schooner s Briefly Noted


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Beastings download Beastings , read online Beastings , kindle ebook Beastings , Beastings 89e6db4c9b6a Winner Of The Portico Prize For Literature Winner Of The Northern Writers Awards Shortlisted For The Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Beastings Is A Brilliant, Brutal Novel, Told Sparsely But With Huge Strength It Put Me In Mind Of The Work Of Ron Rash And Cormac McCarthy In Its Attention To Landscape, And Its Muscular Tone Robert Macfarlane The Evocation Of Landscape Is Intimate And Elemental Myers Has The Potential To Become A True Tragedian Of The Fells The Guardian Benjamin Myers Is Quite Simply An Excellent And Already Accomplished Writer His Prose Is Taut, Confident, Professionally Polished But At The Same Time Maintaining A Sense Of Rustic And Unrefined Authenticity, That Which Is Truly Hewn Judge Sarah Hall, Northern Writers Award This Bitter, Alarming, Occasionally Visionary Novel Of The British Wilderness Is Likely To Linger In The Mind For Some Time New Statesman Beastings Is Just Wonderful Tough And Generous And Beautiful Will Atkins, Author Of The Moor Lives Landscape LiteratureA Girl And A Baby A Priest And A Poacher A Savage Pursuit Through The Landscape Of A Changing Rural EnglandWhen A Teenage Girl Abducts A Child, A Local Priest And Poacher Are Called Upon To Retrieve Them Chased Through The Cumbrian Mountains Of A Distant Past, The Girl Fights Starvation And The Elements, Encountering The Hermits, Farmers And Hunters Who Occupy The Remote Hillside Communities Along The WayLike An American Southern Gothic Tale Set Against The Violent Beauty Of Northern England, Beastings Is A Sparse And Poetic Novel About Morality, Motherhood And CorruptionWinner Of The Northern Writers Award A Bleak, Compelling Novel About Religion, Fertility And Ferality, Played Out Amongst The Lake District Fells Where The Line Between Wo Man And Beast Often Seems Fragile And Thin I Don T Know If I Have Encountered Such A Strong, Engaging Character In A Book For Some Time This Is Startling, Sublime Writing Caught By The River Myers Prose Is Appropriately Sparse His Brief Descriptions Need No Expansion Thin Lipped With Sharp Manicured Nails And He Provokes A Physical Repulsion From The Outset As He Sets Up A Savage Pursuit The Big Issue In His Latest Novel, Benjamin Myers Quite Literally Takes Us For A Walk On The Dark Side The Description Of The Landscape Is At Times So Intense And Vivid, It Breathes On The Page However, Beastings Is Not For The Faint Hearted, The Book Is At Times Genuinely Unsettling As Myers Rich Descriptive Prose Leads Us Willingly Into The Heart Of A Gothic Nightmare A Story That Will Grip You To The Final Word And A Tour De Force For Myers Loud Quiet Magazine One For Cormac McCarthy Fans Tired Of Waiting For His New Book Shortlist Beastings Is A Startlingly Confident Novel, The Kind That Makes Other Books Seem Two Thirds Too Long The Journal As The Tension Of The Chase Heightens And The Novel Races Towards Its Terrible Conclusion, It S Myers S Powerful And Uncompromising Language That Keeps The Reader Gripped At Once Sumptuous And Stark, Horrific And Intense Beastings Is A Novel Of Unflinching Beauty, Telling A Richly Imagined Tale Of A Need From Freedom From The Abuse Of Power That Can Resonate In Us All NARC Magazine The Novel Keeps Its Hand Around Your Throat, Dragging You Backward Through The Overgrowth It Depicts By The Time You Finish The Book, You Ll Feel Simultaneously Compelled To Visit The Lake District And Terrified By The Idea Bookslut Benjamin Myers Highly Anticipated Fourth Book Seals His Reputation As A Writer With A Talent For Painting The Violent Wilderness Of The Rural North Fans Of His Previous Works Will Be On Familiar Ground With The Novel S Mesmerising Prose And Blackly Humorous, Laconic Dialogue, And The Damp And Desolate Landscapes Of The Novel Are Given Immense Tangibility And Personality Living North One For Cormac McCarthy Fans Tired Of Waiting For His New Book Shortlist A Dark, Suspenseful Lakeland Gothic A Real Literary Page Turner, Jenn Ashworth An Absorbing Story Of A Savage Pursuit Big Issue What I Love About Myers Writing Is The Simplicity Of What Is Going On There Are No Gadgets And Bullshite Writing In Beastings, As With Pig Iron And The Gorgeous Novella Snorri Frosti, Is Completely Stripped Back Of Any Fancy Pants Bullshit And Is Primal And Uninhibited Bookc T I Don T Think It S Any Exaggeration To Say That Beastings Is An Absolute Masterpiece A Spellbinding Work Of Art Russ Litten The Language Of Beastings Is Unembellished Deceptively Spare For The Most Part, Yet Obviously Painstakingly Crafted This Pitch Black Tale Surely Mark Myers Continued Ascendancy As A Contemporary Novelist Of Note Despite, Or Perhaps Because Of It Bleakness, Beastings Is A Deeply Compelling And Unnerving Piece Of Prose Cuckoo Review With Beastings Myers Is Becoming A Ron Rash Of Northern England Like Rash S Novels, And Short Stories Of The Appalachian Mountains, Myers Depiction Of Life On The Cumbrian Fells Spans Biblical Struggles Between Innocence And Corruption, Sacrifice And Love And A Sense Of An Evil That Will Always Exist Within The Human Soul Bookmunch