Imagine it’s just you and two other people stuck in a single building for weeks on end. Everyone’s bad habits on display. How long would it take you to turn murderous?
That’s just one of the possible questions asked in Emma Stonex’s The Lamplighters. Inspired by the real-world vanishing of the Flannan Isle Lighthouse keepers, but full of incident and weirdness all it’s own, The Lamplighters is equally poetic and paranoid, gentle and cruel, haunting and horrifying. It may be the best thing I’ve read this year.
It will either make you want to move to a lighthouse immediately, or never again set foot anywhere but dry land.
Emma and I talk about the sea, about bad places and lonely buildings, and we come back again and again to the inexhaustible metaphor of the lighthouse.
It all gets very lyrical, but we do also use the word “bonkbuster” at one point, to puncture the profundity.
This is a truly fantastic book, and a great conversation with someone who shares our love for the windswept, memory-stained places of the world.
The Lamplighters is published in paperback on March 1st in the US and March 31st in the UK.
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