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ISBN 978-1-909585-17-1
First published February 2016; 146 pp paperback with endpapers; 198 x 129 mm
£8.99
click here to read a pdf excerpt.
Will Eaves is the author of four novels and a collection of poems (Sound Houses, Carcanet, 2011). He was Arts Editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1995 to 2011, and now teaches at Warwick University. Also available: The Absent Therapist.



 
Will Eaves  The Inevitable Gift Shop
 
Poetry Book Society Special Commendation

Reissued in 2016 with new cover

‘It’s like a conversation with an extraordinarily wise friend: surprising, tender, funny and profound.
     – Michelle de Kretser

Subtitled ‘A memoir by other means’, The Inevitable Gift Shop lassoes consciousness, memory, desire, literature, illness, flora and fauna, problems with tortoises and cable ties, and brings them back home in double file, as prose and poetry. ‘This is now, or as good as. / We should welcome it. / There should be hats.’

‘Penetratingly clever and often quite moving and extremely charming, border-crossing uncategorisable writing ... there’s something holistic about it, in the way it enacts the absolute continuity between inner and outer life, what we feel what we think what we do.’
     – Patrick McGuinness

‘It takes itself apart and puts itself back together again as it goes along like a literary Transformer, morphing from prose to poetry, literary criticism to history, every new shape a brilliant incarnation ... This is an odd book, no question, one I back to last.’
     – Ian Duhig

‘Heartbreaking and hilarious.’
     – Ian Sansom

‘If there were rules to writing – which there aren’t, probably – this book is rewriting them … Eaves is cutting an entirely new path, machete in hand, through bush, briar and jungle into uncharted artistic territory … It’s a book that demands to be read and re-read – and then re-read again; both front to back, back to front, and in all other manner of combinations.’
     – Nothingintherulebook.com (full review here)

The Absent Therapist, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize, was a fragmentary novel of many voices. Here, Eaves has produced a work of even more disparate and uncategorisable form. There are chunks of prose memoir (his grandmother’s dentures), criticism (why E M Forster was wrong about Mr Micawber), observation (everything from the profusion of cable ties in packaging to the threat of artificial intelligence) and one-line statements: “I eat fish with a clear conscience because they neglect their young”) alongside beguiling poems that touch on memory and childhood.’
     – New Statesman

‘… it’s a mixture of autobiographical anecdotes, poetry, micro-narratives, literary criticism and philosophical musings. In grouping these styles of writing within distinct sections, the book takes on a remarkable fluidity where different parts comment upon each other and a deeper, more complex understanding of a whole life is imaginatively constructed.
   The title is a reference to a guide’s remark of a tourist site in Iceland that there is an inevitable gift shop. For me, this image took on significance throughout suggesting that parts of our lives are parcelled up and offered up, but they serve only as imitations of the real thing … an absolutely fascinating, cerebral and original book that raised so many questions for me – not just about the content of what I was reading but how I was reading it.’
     – Lonesomereader.com
(full review here)

The Inevitable Gift Shop is a puzzling book, and is meant to be so; it is a reminder that prose and poetry can happily coexist, and that publishers might reconsider their customary reluctance to let them do so.’
     – John Greening, Times Literary Supplement


Will Eaves's previous book, The Absent Therapist, was shortlisted for the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize:

‘These are gripping narratives, with intriguing shifts of register, but they are also technically experimental and daring. Each sentence is weighed, poised. The intelligence with which Will Eaves handles language is modest and rare.’
     – Patricia Duncker

‘The whole book is like someone deeply charismatic and charming daring you not to find them insane. It’s wonderful.’
     – Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

‘I was gripped and awed by Will Eaves’s The Absent Therapist, touching, addictive and unlike any other book.’
     – Thomas Adès, TLS  ‘Books of the Year’

‘Whatever this is – whether novel/anti-novel or just a twisted stop-start journey of nearly short-stories – it’s a mini-masterpiece. And it contains – or is barely able to contain and control – multitudes.’

     – Simon Sweetman, Off the Tracks