cover image Bolt from the Blue

Bolt from the Blue

Jeremy Cooper. Fitzcarraldo, $15.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-913097-46-2

A mother dies and a daughter is left struggling to understand their idiosyncratic relationship in this quietly moving epistolary work from Cooper (Ash Before Oak). For more than 30 years, Lynn Gallagher and her mother have primarily communicated through letters, emails, and postcards. Beginning with Lynn’s first year as an art student in London and spanning the course of a successful filmmaking career, the surviving correspondence often reflects an aloofness on Lynn’s part, and her prefatory narration makes clear that the episodic silences were her choice. Ambitious, and prone to exclamation marks and the occasional biting comment, Lynn always seems to know what she wants and what she doesn’t. Her mother, meanwhile, can be resigned, emotionally reserved, and resentful of Lynn’s ebullient missives on art and politics, but she also secretly visits Lynn’s screenings in disguise. Shared between them is a mixture of affection and loathing that they explore in brief bursts, without resolution or revelation. Thin-seeming at the beginning, the book becomes deeply intimate thanks to the two women’s distinctive voices and the effect of three decades upon their dynamic. The result is a memorable portrait of difficult love, and a captivating tour of the London art scene. (Apr.)