Amy Liptrot’s second memoir, The Instant, picks up pretty much where its predecessor, The Outrun, left off. Back in her native Orkney, Liptrot is a still-sober recovering alcoholic who occasionally seeks solace in nature, and whose only time away from her phone seems to be when she’s swimming in the sea with friends. Also still there is Liptrot’s almost painful narratorial honesty: she admits to being sexually frustrated, searching for potential lovers using a dating app, and making an unsuccessful pass at a friend on whom she’s developed a crush.
Next thing you know, she has upped sticks to Berlin, where she divides her time between packing tea, and searching for goshawks, raccoons, and a lover. After several unsatisfactory encounters, she eventually finds what seems to be the right man. Infatuation and eventual heartbreak follow.
As with The Outrun, a sizeable chunk of the narrative takes place on the internet: ‘In many ways, the internet is my most stable home,’ Liptrot admits early on. After the brief, intense love-affair ends suddenly, Liptrot begins a near forensic analysis of where it went wrong, delving deep into the ‘digital archaeology’ of the failed relationship.
Liptrot’s prose is spare, bordering on poetic at times, and is almost brutal in its descriptions of her vulnerability. By the end of the book, however, there’s a hint of better times ahead.
A fantastic book.
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Disclosure: Since I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) this book’s predecessor, Amy Liptrot has become a near(ish) neighbour of mine. We have met several times, and I consider her a friend.