Book of the Month Extract - The Instant by Amy Liptrot

The Instant by Amy Liptrot is our Book of the Month for March 2022. Read an extract from the opening of the book here...

I’ve been getting text messages from the moon. A note flashes on my phone, asking if the moon can track my location, and I consent.

I have moved to a new city but the moon is following me around. It texts to tell me when it will be out. Through the windows of my flat in Kreuzberg, there is just a parallelogram of sky at the top of the courtyard, only a small space to catch the passing moon on certain clear nights.

B said that people move here just so they can tell their friends back home that they’re living in Berlin. B said that people moving here often feel like they’ve dropped several years, that they can extend their youth.

The app uses my location to tell me the moon’s phase, direction, distance at all times. Right now, the moon is 384,012 miles away from my hand, which is holding my phone close to my heart, as I sit at the table in the narrow kitchen of this flat with tall windows in an old-style apartment block, stinging nettles by the front door. I’m just home from work, vibrating with tiredness. The moon is waxing gibbous and is 25.2 degrees above the horizon, almost due east. It rose just after midday and will set around 3 a.m.

I run a bath, consult my digital charts, then wait for the moon. My bath is next to the window and I open it wide to the cool air. I hear stray cats mewing in the stairwell, magpies rattling in the bare trees and the indistinct rumble of the city that reminds me of the wind back home. My first sight of the moon is its reflection in my opposite neighbour’s window: a bulbous glow in a double-glazed mirror. Over the evening, it passes like a distant ship. I keep going back to the window and am thrilled to catch its oblivious light.

In the stairwell there are political graffiti and signs: anti-gentrification, pro-refugee, anarchist. The building used to be squatted and there are some communal elements between the flats: shared Wi-Fi and handyman. I hear the neighbours around the courtyard, sex and arguments in various languages, someone playing the flute, a baby crying. Every 1 May, there is a big techno party in the courtyard. It’s electric around here.

The internet is hectic and I go to the moon to relax, opening new browser tabs for the moon’s Wikipedia page and Google Maps of its surface. I follow new lunar developments from NASA. I learn that the moon was probably once part of the earth, sheared off by an asteroid. B, who moved from Scotland to Tasmania, tells me that there is a different moon in the southern hemisphere: it waxes and wanes in the opposite direction. I learn that the moon is slowing down the earth’s rotation. The moon is holding on to us.

The Instant by Amy Liptrot is our Book of the Month for March 2022. Find out more and order your copy here.