It is the permeability of Harsent’s writing that astonishes: global catastrophe, violent incident, mechanical threat – all absorbed into the text. Yet the paradox is that he seems to be on the wrong side of the membrane of what matters to him. “Women of the house – he lay in the dark and listened to their voices… Their talk was a constant, soft, overlapping,/under and over music, soft questions, soft laughter, diminuendo.” It is their music – not his. Repeatedly, women’s hands appear, but their soft caresses do not soothe. Lovers are seen through a glass, darkly. Femininity and domesticity continue like a play on an unreachable stage, as though taking place in another world.