Book Review – I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

First Published, 2017

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
(I feel like I need more stars)

I joined a book club late last year and, as time passes, and we establish our rhythms, our likes and dislikes, our numbers have been swelling. At one of our recent meetings, a new person sat beside me. We had had the briefest of chats some weeks before, when she came to understand that I was a writer. She asked me a bit about creative writing courses and whether a degree in English (Language or Literature) was imperative for the would-be writer.

Once I had told her that my formal training is in electrical installations, but I’ve always written things (I have a more commanding hand when it comes to semi-colons than I ever did for junction boxes), she seemed to relax a little.

She was the one who suggested we read Transcription by Kate Atkinson, for which, I can never thank her enough, but then she turned to me and asked: “Have you ever read any Maggie O’Farrell?”

I had not, but my new friend, Kate, recommended that I start with I Am, I Am, I Am.
When I started reading the opening chapter, I felt like I was reading something dangerous. Totally different from any fiction I’d encountered. There is, of course, something other about memoirs, but the writing was such that I read half the book in an evening.

In fact, it was yesterday evening that I started it. It’s now quarter to four in the morning, and I’ve just finished it. I have only once swept aside everything else for a book I didn’t write, and that was many years ago. That should tell you a lot about this book.

The stories in I Am, I Am, I Am are of the author’s encounters with her own mortality. She has had plenty of near-misses and I’m sure I felt every surge of water, every threat of violence, every heart-thump as I read.

Maggie O’Farrell is a new favourite for me, but I know she’ll be one that I hang onto. I need to read her. Her use of language is stunning. She pulls the poetry out of every word. Her stories are powerful, intimate, heart-rending and desperately addictive.

Thank you, Kate.

Here’s the link: