Look ahead to Wordstock: Kirsty Gunn

Ahead of her appearance at Wordstock 2022, Alastair Creamer shares two short reviews of Kirsty Gunn’s work. Something to whet your appetite for a session all about Writing as Living – using our day-to-day experiences as creative inspiration. Don’t miss it, tickets here.

44 Things: A Year of Life at Home

A book described as ‘a mosaic of personal reflection’ is very prescient when you realise it was published in 2007. Kirsty Gunn’s 44 Things maps out one year of her life (her 44th) through an astonishing and intimate tapestry of essays, poems, fragments and stories. She gives you the added bonus of a short commentary at the back on each piece of writing.

This book will sit by your bedside and gently call to you. Maybe it’s time to write something similar? You might dip into it one ‘thing’ at a time, or settle into its slipstream and let it take you on a journey. You will only put it down when your eyes close and your arms weaken into sleep. Perhaps your partner will lift it off your face.


‘Rain’ has been described as a small masterpiece – intense and hypnotic; something akin to Claire Keegan’s ‘Small Things Like These’. It keeps you gripped through its 95 pages, in a dream-like way.

It’s a story of an elder sister and younger brother’s childhood summers at a lake. Left alone as their parents entertain a constant stream of guests, the children play in and around the water. There is an undercurrent of tension. We feel their freedom as well as their abandonment. There’s fun and lurking danger. The narrator is sometimes her twelve-year-old self, and at others an adult looking back. It’s as if we’re experiencing it in different minds and times whilst still being her story.

– Alastair Creamer

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