NS Recommends: new books from Nicholas Lezard, William Cash and Meena Kandasamy

Lezard's It Gets Worse, Cash's Restoration Heart and Kandasamy's Exquisite Cadavers.

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It Gets Worse 
Nicholas Lezard

Readers of this magazine will be aware that for Nicholas Lezard, author of the weekly “Down and Out” column, there is always further down and out for him to go: rock bottom is really just the top of a scree slope. It Gets Worse is his second collection of columns and indeed, since he wrote the title, things have already got worse. Lezard’s travails – financial, romantic, existential – have a there-but-for-the grace-of-God fascination, but without his wry and self-aware humour they would simply be dispiriting. His gift is to make misery and a malign fate diverting.
Salt Publishing, 272pp, £9.99

Restoration Heart 
William Cash

This is the story of two wrecks. One is Upton Cressett, a down-on-its-luck manor house in Shropshire; the other is its châtelain, William Cash. When he took on the task of restoring the house, Cash, a journalist and editor, was 43, twice-divorced and in need of fixing too. As he recounts his two rebuildings he drops a lot of names along the way – including Boris Johnson and a shared love interest. But despite his numerous connections Cash is not immune to trouble and heartbreak, about which he writes frankly. These passages give the book an unexpected poignancy.
Constable, 416pp, £20

Exquisite Cadavers
Meena Kandasamy

Reviewers of Meena Kandasamy’s second novel, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife, conflated the book’s fiction with Kandasamy’s biography. The author’s innovative way of grappling with that misunderstanding is, in her third book, to query truths, realities and literary origins in a conversation with herself that runs in the margins alongside her fiction. As Karim and Maya, the young couple at the heart of the novel, approach a crossroad in their lives, their pending decisions work in dialogue with Kandasamy’s astute metafictional observations.
Atlantic Books, 112pp, £5.99

This article appears in the 04 December 2019 issue of the New Statesman, What we want