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Before Adam Farrer’s family relocated to Withernsea in 1992, he’d never heard of the Holderness coast. The move represented one thing to Adam: a chance to leave the insecurities of early adolescence behind. And he could do that anywhere. What he didn’t know was how much he’d grow to love the quirks and people of this faded Yorkshire resort, in spite of its dilapidated attractions and retreating clifftops.
While Adam documents the minutiae of small-town life, he lays bare experiences that are universal. His insights on family, friendship, male mental health and suicide are revealed in stories of reinvention, rapacious seagulls, interdimensional werewolves, burlesque dancing pensioners and his compulsion towards the sea.
Cold Fish Soup is an affectionate look at a place and its inhabitants, and the ways in which they can shape and influence someone, especially of an impressionable age. Adam’s account explores what it means to love and be shaped by a place that is under threat, and the hope—and hilarity—that can be found in community.
"Cold Fish Soup understands the oddity, tenderness and brutal ordinariness of small-town life. Adam Farrer is a bold new voice in nonfiction writing. His keen observations are as gentle as they are wry, as attentive to the bleak truths of loss and deprivation as they are to the eccentric humour of humans being entirely themselves... Witty, charming, moving and real." (Jenn Ashworth)
"Cold Fish Soup is such a wide-ranging and thought-provoking essay collection, covering masculinity, mental health, werewolves and alien sightings, sense of belonging, the difficulties of carving out a creative life in a geographically marginalised place, coastal erosion and burlesque, amongst other things. It drew me in, and kept me hooked, through all diversions and detours in time and narrative, and made me both cry and laugh heartily and fully. It is a love letter to Withernsea and all the people in it, its crumbling cliffs, its strange beauties and its losses, that made me love Withernsea too." (Polly Atkin)
"What a glorious book! Just beautiful. Adam dances down that line between happy and sad with such sure-footed grace. It underlines that there is no such thing as 'an ordinary life' or indeed an 'ordinary place'." (Catherine Simpson(