Clay Tongue – Nicholas Conley

claytonguenovFrom the author of the award-winning Pale Highway and the radio play Something in the Nothing comes a short fantasy of love, shyness, and the secrets of human communication.

Katie Mirowitz is a small little girl with an even smaller little voice. She possesses a deep love for her grandfather, who suffers from aphasia after a bad stroke cuts loose the part of his brain that processes verbal language. When Katie uncovers a miraculous secret inside the pages of her grandfather’s old journal, as well as an ancient key, she goes out into the woods in search of answers — hoping to uncover a mythical being that, if it exists, may just have the ability to grant wishes.

Author, blogger and all round good chap Nicholas Conley is at it again with another fine offering which, although short is an excellent read and well worth some of your currency.

The succinct nature of such works as this always leaves a challenge for the hard done to reviewer but nevertheless the workout is good after the Christmas binge.  The cover is a wonderful piece of art and gives nothing away, only what the imagination speculates on.  More of this type of book presentation would certainly be a more pleasing state of affairs for all readers and casual observers alike.

The first chapter is a genuinely moving entrance into the life of a young girl Katie, who is trying to understand her grandfathers sudden change after a stroke.  Her lack of comprehension is a challenge to read but perfectly realised by the author.  This is paralleled by her grandfather’s ingenuity and tenaciousness to overcome the communication problems that aphasia brings.

communication is a big part of this story, coupled with time and its cruel effects. It feels totally believable and I found myself hooked, reading through in one sitting.  There is much scope for self-reflection as well and a reminder to view life through the eyes of a child every so often.

Each character is excellently crafted and all have the right balance of humanity and vulnerability, they feel real and that is the true strength of the book.  Through their believability one is drawn further into the everyday lives that are as glorious at times as they are mundane; all of which allows the reader to welcome a turn in direction later on and accept it due to the foundations already laid down.

The descriptions are really effective from nightmares to old books and the visual language in some places that really helps place the reader into the situation.  The feeling of childish and adult fears mixed together in a child’s mind is a very delicate theme to navigate, as well as ideas of existence, the cost of it and of how we value life.  It is a powerful cross-section of themes, a mix which is always done well by Conley (see Pale Highway).

All in all Clay Tongue is a very satisfying read that will be read all in one sitting.  This emotive offering has plenty of moving moments and a touch of the mystical as well which doesn’t intrude or take away from the piece in any way, all in all a good way to start your reading off for 2017.






18 Replies to “Clay Tongue – Nicholas Conley”

  1. A nicely written review which makes me want to read the book. Thanks SteJ! A good start to the year which I hope will be a successful and enjoyable one for you my friend. Best wishes, Clare


    1. It was nice to get off the mark with a good book, especially as the last couple of months have been sparse on both posts and visits to my fellow bloggers. This year will be different though, it is promising to be a better year all round. I hope your year surpasses all others and you have a good one!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ste, I think you could sell a Bible to the one known as Ol’ Scratch! No, but seriously, you make so many books sound so good, that I’m continually kicking myself that I’m not reading as much any more. I am engaged on reading a good book now, though, but it’s very complex. Not giving away the title, as I hope someday soon to surprise you by ACTUALLY POSTING again! No, really, me! You deserve a good year, and I think you will have one, sort of along the lines W.B. Yeats was getting at when he said that each person will get the afterlife he or she believes in–you believe (as you said above) that the year will be good, so who can doubt your prescience?


    1. I had to look up Ol’ Scratch but will now be using that all the time, even when not relevant to the conversation. You steady on with your posting schedule! I look forward to reading your thoughts as always. The year has started off well and in Summer as in the next omnibus of A Dance…happy news all round!


  3. Communication is the most important part of human relationships. Yet, we take it as granted most of the times. The book cover, title and your review have piqued my interest…I’m adding it to my 2017 reading list… 🙂


  4. Another one I’ll have to read! I love the idea of uncovering secrets in old journals and the possibility of mythical beings makes it all sound even better. Wishing you a new year filled with great books!


  5. In one reading! Your passion is boundless, and that’s a wonderful thing. It sounds like an interesting story, but what I like most in your review is your comment “and a reminder to view life through the eyes of a child every so often.” 😀
    Last year I had kid’s month on my GLaM blog. There, I posted Street Art that was either naive, childlike, painted expressly for children or lacking in adult arrogance.
    So, I think I will do it again this year. Perhaps you would be interested in penning a short poem to one of the new pics I have collected?
    You could post it here, and I will reblog.
    This is not until March.
    Lots of time. 😀
    Also, I will feature links to credible children’s charities on my sidebar. ⭐


    1. I am certainly up for that, if I could just ask you to remind me a little nearer the time as I tend to start on a project and then get distracted with a book. A gentle push will help me to get it done, which reminds me I have several a load of photos to send to you for your other blog as well.


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