With his fifth short novel, Cynan Jones (Everything I Found on the Beach) further establishes himself as a master of the power of less. Cove consists of spare, verse-like prose, some thoughts and observations not always in direct correlation to the preceding or subsequent passages, yet all part of a poignant whole. A deceptively simple story of man against nature, Cove's coolness sits on currents of underlying complexity that amplify the tumult. Although the writing is quiet and polished, the terror is real. "No paddle. No flashlight. One dead phone."

A kayaker leaves a simple note, "Pick salad x," and heads to the sea to fish. Caught in a storm--"One repeated word now. No, no, no"--he is struck by lightning. On regaining consciousness, his body is damaged, his memory horrifyingly blank. He can't recall his name, but he knows he's in trouble and must find a way back to a life that flickers like static electricity at the back of his mind.

Jones writes with an attention to detail that dazzles in its ability to capture the beauty of nature ("a flock of jellyfish, like negligees") and its supreme power ("A metallic sheen comes to the water, like cutlery") with sure-handed brevity. At just over 100 pages, Jones's minimalist style has maximum effect, creating empathy for a mystery protagonist, warmth for his past and hope for his future as he struggles against the odds to be the legend who returns rather than the myth who disappeared. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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