In these peculiar times, we are thrust back into ourselves in a kind of suspension: one in which only private life exists yet threatens to become trivial through a sense of mutual, overarching dread.
Lent from award-winning writer Kate Cayley is built from this tension, exploring domestic and artistic life amidst the environmental crisis and the surprising ways that every philosophical quandary—large and small—converges in the home, in small objects, conversations, and moments. The grotesque and the tedious, the baroque and the banal, intertwine in the first three sections. Meticulous depictions of spectacle run into the repetition of daily domestic life: trying to explain time to children, day trips to the planetarium, and the warnings of strangers; these are interspersed with depictions such as Mary Shelley recalling the monster, the inner life of a seventeenth century portrait sitter, and Ted Hughes’s second wife telling her story to the dead Sylvia Plath. The title section explores religious faith; how belief is itself a repetition, a slow accumulation over time, just like love or forgiveness.
Lent is an exquisite work of our era, asking us to contemplate what it means to live in a broken world—and why we still find it beautiful.