Robinson, Ray 1971-
Robinson, Ray 1971-
Born 1971, in England. Education: Lancaster University, M.A., 1999, Ph.D., 2006.
Electricity, Picador (London, England), 2006, Black Cat (New York, NY), 2007.
The Man Without, Picador (London, England), 2008.
Ray Robinson first became interested in writing as a child, when his fascination was poetry. His family did not put an emphasis on books and reading, however, and so it was not until many years later that he became interested in reading novels. However, he was always interested in storytelling as an art form, even in an informal way. At sixteen years old, he wrote what he considered his first novel, scrawling it across paper he used to line two walls of his room. In his late twenties, having finished school and traveled for a time, he ended up attending Lancaster University, aware that he wanted more formal training. It was there that he began to learn the mechanics of fiction, such as point of view and characterization, and he earned his master's degree with an emphasis in creative writing in 1999. His first novel, Electricity, grew out of a short story that he wrote while at Lancaster.
Electricity is the story of Lily O'Connor, a thirty-year-old woman who has suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy since she was a child, brought on by an incident in which her mother threw her down the stairs and which resulted in her mother losing custody of Lily. At the beginning of the book, Lily's mother has died, and Lily takes advantage of this fact to look up her two brothers. While she finds Barry, she learns swiftly enough that they have nothing in common. However, she is unable to locate her favorite brother, Mikey, who has apparently been missing for several years. At loose ends, Lily wanders London, meeting a series of people, most of whom are intriguing characters, but none of whom provide her with any real connection. On man, Dave, an electrician, becomes her lover, but it is an unhealthy, abusive relationship reminiscent of scenes from Lily's childhood. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked that "Lily's voice is impressive—raw, angry, emotionally urgent, rising frequently to inchoate poetry … and the mixed pleasure of inhabiting her jagged psyche is the best reason for reading this daring tightrope-walk of a novel." New Statesman reviewer David Annand observed that "it is the steady and unfussy manner in which Robinson expands on the metaphorical possibilities of epilepsy that convinces the reader of the artistry of Electricity." He went on to conclude that "Lily's battle with her condition becomes emblematic of every battle against circumstance, as does her dogged refusal to be defined by it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2007, review of Electricity.
Library Journal, March 1, 2007, Leslie Patterson, review of Electricity, p. 77.
New Statesman, April 17, 2006, David Annand, "Shaking Things Up," p. 55.
Times Literary Supplement, April 7, 2006, "Sparks of Life," p. 23.
Author Trek,http://www.authortrek.com/ (May 27, 2008), author profile.
Guardian Online,http://books.guardian.co.uk/ (March 25, 2006), Catherine Taylor, "Fits and Starts."
Independent Online,http://www.independent.co.uk/ (April 2, 2006), Hermione Eyre, review of Electricity.
Lancaster University Web site,http://www.lancs.ac.uk/ (May 27, 2008), "Former Lancaster Ph.D. Student in the Running for Oldest Literary Prize."
National Society of Epilepsy Web site,http://www.epilepsynse.org.uk/ (July 1, 2006), review of Electricity.
PanMacmillan Web site,http://www.panmacmillan.com/ (May 27, 2008), author interview.