I See Buildings Fall Like Lightning by Keiran Goddard - review by Tommy Gilhooly

Tommy Gilhooly

Hard Knocks

I See Buildings Fall Like Lightning


Abacus 244pp £16.99

Simone Weil’s aphorism ‘every separation is a link’ opens Keiran Goddard’s second novel. Weil explains this apparent paradox through the analogy of two prisoners knocking on the wall between their cells: it simultaneously divides and allows communication. I See Buildings Fall Like Lightning pitches this idea into matters of class, following five working-class friends who grew up on the same estate, each now suffering their own midlife crisis. Rian, nouveau riche and the only one to have left for the city, is the most intriguing. His success functions like Weil’s wall, both isolating him in terms of class while providing new opportunities for conversation during their reunion at the estate.

The narrative is delivered in episodic, five-page bursts. The effect is jolty and verges on the formulaic. Each segment involves a rapid reorientation of the characters’ situation followed by a passage of reminiscence. Rian, Patrick, Shiv, Conor and Oli cannot escape into intoxicated nights as they did in their youth. And we are stuck in their heads, five pages at a time, as they anxiously ponder, ‘I’m getting fat, or old. Or both.’ Accordingly, a colloquial, cynical tone pervades. A simile coined by Patrick, a takeaway delivery driver, stands out: ‘It’s

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter