Cold Water

Cold Water

Gwendoline Riley

Language: English

Pages: 176

ISBN: 0786711094

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Carmel McKisco is wry, volatile and full of longing: a 20-year-old working nights in a dive bar in Manchester, England. Cut off from her family, she forges odd alliances with her customers, daydreams about escaping to Cornwall, her own Elysian Fields, and nurtures mordant fixations on Tony, her charismatic ex, and Steven, her washed-up adolescent hero. As she spins out the days and nights of an unrelenting rainy winter, she finds herself compelled to confront her romantic preoccupations. Peopled with memorable characters and imbued with a subtle sense of raw loneliness beneath the banter and whimsy, this remarkable debut is as cool and assured as Carmel herself. Cold Water was chosen by the Guardian as one of the five outstanding British debut novels of 2002. “I wouldn’t just recommend this book to friends, I’d buy it for them.”—The Guardian “[Cold Water] makes you think of Denis Johnson or Anne Tyler ... effortless stylistic sleight of hand and vivid, tactile humanity.”—Alan Warner, author of The Sopranos “Gwendoline Riley is only twenty-two, but her short, sharp prose sets her book apart from other coming-of-age novels.”


















pressed my face against the glass cabinets and pulled the same faces as the tigers and the foxes in their curious mise-en-scènes. Bared my teeth. Upstairs, on a balcony with an iron balustrade, we lingered amongst the birds on bare branches and the drawers full of pinned insects and dead eggs. To get to Katja’s flat I would walk down past the student halls on the left, and the junkyard on the right; under the flyover and for two minutes along the dual carriageway, where the gutters were filled

work. She’d be standing outside the cinema on her break, her arms folded, smoking and tapping her foot. I always pointed at the posters and asked her what was good, but she’d only ever have seen the last fifteen minutes or the first fifteen minutes, and she’d generally say they were complete shit. ‘Fair enough,’ I’d say. When I go to the pictures I always sit in the very middle of the front row. On the rare occasions when Margi came with me she would too; Katja would feel self-conscious and want

November. Definitely. If I could ever save my money.’ He bit his lip. ‘Really?’ I grinned and nodded. Lucas was twenty years old, like me. He was from Austin, Texas, but, ‘majoring in sculpture at NYU’. We had a good time out drinking and shooting the breeze. At a small bar behind the Bridgewater Hall he drank rum and Cokes and I had the same. He had a way of scratching the back of his neck and pressing his lips together when he was thinking. But as he talked he shrugged a lot and smiled a lot

all seems irrelevant. They’re both of them like pieces that have been removed from the game board. Mum used to tell me all sorts of stories. Like when she was in junior school she desperately wanted to go to ballet classes, and on Saturday mornings she used to watch from the bay window in the front room; see all the other girls go by to the church hall, and she asked her mum why she couldn’t go but she just sneered at her and said, ‘What would you want to do that for?’ When she was twelve she

Obliquely, he was right. I know I’ve no desire to swim with dolphins or see the Taj Mahal. I had a fling with Gareth after Tony, and it was much as I might have expected. One time I was lying back on his immaculate bed, and he stared at me for a long time, then he said, ‘You’re so beautiful it’s almost incredible,’ with total conviction, and he closed his eyes as he said it. And I said, ‘Oh, Gareth, it’s only skin deep.’ He narrowed his eyes. ‘But people ruin beauty . . . so easily, like just

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