The Short Day Dying (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
The Short Day Dying made quite an impression in Great Britain when it was first published by Faber and Faber in 2005. Lovingly reviewed, the book was short-listed for the 2005 Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of a 2006 Betty Trask Award for first novelists under thirty-five. A couple of comments from British reviewers are typical. Writing in The Guardian March 19, 2005, Ian Marchant stated, “Hobbs has exactly captured the voice of West Country Methodism.” The subtitle of Kirsty Gunn’s review in The Observer March 13, 2005, called the novel “a masterclass in less is more.” Both of these observations help explain why the British loved the novel and why some Americans, according to remarks on the Internet, find it puzzling.
The Short Day Dying is highly localized in place, time, style, and subject matter. In penning the novel, Peter Hobbs drew partly from his own background, growing up in Cornwall and Yorkshire. A descendant of Methodist lay preachers, Hobbs was inspired by the diaries of his great-great-grandfather, who might have served as the model for the novel’s protagonist, Charles Wenmoth. Narrated entirely from Charles’s first-person point of view, the novel consists of short chapters that resemble journal entries, although not dated. Like journal entries, they are mostly summary, without much dialogue or dramatization. Also like journal entries, they embody Charles’s voice in a not quite...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Booklist 102, no. 11 (February 1, 2006): 29.
Kirkus Reviews 74, no. 1 (January 1, 2006): 9.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 50 (December 19, 2005): 37.
The Times Literary Supplement, May 13, 2005, p. 22.
The Wall Street Journal 247, no. 64 (March 18, 2006): P8.
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