2012 Man Booker Prize: The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse, by Alison Moore

‘I’m going home,’ she said, meaning New York, meaning three thousand miles away. It was only after she had gone that Futh realised she had not left an address. He looked on the pin board in the kitchen but all he found was the start of a shopping list, her handwriting an almost flat line, a dash of Biro, indecipherable.
He looked in the library for pictures of New York, finding skyscrapers with suns rising and setting in their mirrored windows and all lit up at night, the light reflected in the river.
On his father’s side, there was German, although his father had never been to Germany until they went there together when Futh was twelve. Futh’s granddad had left home young, could not get away quickly enough. He settled in England and did not see his parents or his brother again.
‘He never went home for a visit?’ asked Futh.
‘No,’ said his father. ‘He thought about it a lot, but he never made it home.’
Futh did not like to think that someone would just leave, and so abruptly, and never see their family again.
Abandoning the top bunk, Futh feels his way down the ladder to the bed underneath, and the cold air follows him.

He woke in the night and his mother was there, her round face above him, lit by the moon through a gap in the curtains. When she left his room he was alone in the dark with her scent – the smell of violets – and the sound of her footsteps going down the stairs.
By breakfast time, she was gone, and his father was already drunk. Before she left, his father never hit him. Afterwards, when he did, it was without warning, or nothing Futh noticed in time. It was like when birds flew into windows with a sudden sickening thud, and then having to look at the bird lying terribly still on the ground outside, perhaps only dazed but probably hurt or broken in some way.

Broken homes spawn more broken homes. Divorced people do learned something, everything, from their divorced parents.
The Lighthouse is like silent meditation, and a mute observation. Of sleeps, baths, sour marriages and past regrets. Of emotional wounds. One after another, over and over again in every chapter, in the lives of the two main characters: Mr. Futh, of England, and Ms. Ester from Germany.
And how exactly do they relate to each other? Other than being a guest and the bar-guesthouse owner, nothing more. Futh and Ester don’t even have any proper conversation. Not a single one.

Check out my other 2012 Man Booker Prize shortlist reviews:
Bring Up the Bodies
Swimming Home

2012 Man Booker Prize longlist reviews:
Communion Town
The Teleportation Accident
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry


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