Insignificance by James Clammer

James Clammer's novel is a careful exploration of how seismic personal events interact with the minutiae of everyday life

Book Review by Heather McDaid | 28 May 2021
  • Insignificance
Book title: Insignificance
Author: James Clammer

Meet Joseph. He’s trying to focus on a plumbing job for his wife’s friend, but is distracted. He believes that his son tried to kill his wife, and worries he will try again. He’s concerned his wife is going to leave him, if he even makes it through the single day readers join him for. He’s an ordinary man, processing extraordinary circumstance.

What begins as an almost granular take on Joseph's day, from the mechanics of plumbing down to the minutiae of his coffee, takes a turn towards emotional exploration as Edward – the son of Joseph and his wife Alison – unexpectedly shows up. Already struggling, awkward and vulnerable, the tension increases. 

Edward had believed his mother to be an imposter (Capgras Syndrome), and that appears to still be the case; readers follow the fissions of Joseph’s marriage in the aftermath as they are unveiled naturally across his day – one half letting life happen to him, the other turning to her faith.

Insignificance is a careful exploration of the isolation of one day, how seismic events and encounters intersect with the ongoing battle to simply make it through. Random thought trails and quirky narration breaks add a flourish to the already snappy novel as readers become hooked on the focus on one man and those who pass through his life, feeling a tension in waiting for resolution, if that’s ever granted. A short read, but insightful in its simplicity.

Galley Beggar Press, out now, £9.99