Things We Nearly Knew


Susan Osborne, A Life in Books, 10 January 2018
There’s nothing like getting your reading year off to a good start. Jim Powell’s Things We Nearly Knew continues 2018’s satisfying trend for me with its slice of American smalltown life seen through the eyes of an unnamed bartender. I’d enjoyed Powell’s second novel, Trading Futures… His new novel is infused with a gentler humour, the themes it tackles much weightier and all the better for it… Powell’s characterisation is intelligent and perceptive, his writing more striking that I remembered it… A thoroughly enjoyable piece of storytelling, well turned out in every sense. If the rest of 2018’s reading is as good as this I’ll be delighted.  [read more]

Anthony Cummins, Daily Mail, 5 January 2018
If you didn’t know Jim Powell was British, you wouldn’t guess from this hard-boiled slice of Americana, narrated by the middle-aged owner of a Nowheresville bar.At the start, he and his wife of 30 years are speculating about Arlene, a new regular who sets eyes twinkling and tongues wagging as she asks around for a man named Jack, letting nothing slip about why. … Powell’s previous novel, Trading Futures, described a City trader’s meltdown; this book, ostensibly a change of tack, ultimately turns on a similar theme of mid-life unspooling. If it overcooks – just a bit – it makes up for it with a wry charm that grips you right to the sombre finish.  [read more]

Leaf Arbuthnot, Sunday Times, 31 December 2017
British writer Jim Powell’s accessible third novel plays out in a scrubby bar on the edge of a middling American town whose residents’ main hobbies are gossip and boozing… While the plot is expertly spun out, characters lapse too readily into cliché. It is an engrossing read but not a particularly nutritious one.  [read more]