Closer than Breathing

Seven Tales

By R.I. Sutton


Speak to Him thou for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet—

Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Higher Pantheism

‘It’s a strange thing, son, building your own box. Knowing it’s to be your last home—to house the bones that carried you through life. There was nights I’d sit and marvel at these old hands shaping it—these old hands making ready for the day they’d move and bend no more.’


Can you fashion forgiveness from a willow tree's heart? Might the future be salvaged in a curio store? Or, at sea, what is it that lies in the hazy space where water meets sky? These ‘wondrous stories’ are about people at the periphery, those seeking to sustain the inner light in an incredulous world. A dying man writes to his son about love and regret as he builds his own coffin; an exile finds her way home on a mythical steed; and a young girl faces the world's end with a song. Closer than Breathing reveals the monumental in life's detritus with a precision that is both anatomical and sublime.


R.I. Sutton’s illustrated volume renews the tradition of the tale—that distinctive literary form exemplified by such writers as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hermann Hesse and Karen Blixen. As a unique and independent tribute to art and craftsmanship, this limited-edition work is typeset, letterpress printed and bound by the author’s own hands.



'These are stories of luminous epiphanies and dark apprehensions, evanescent intuitions and fugitive glimpses, stories of hope and regret, love and loss and grief, of death and renewal...These tales, often gossamer-fine, altogether escape the claustrophobia and the clamour, the ideological posturing, the cramped horizons of much contemporary fiction. They variously amaze, disturb, soothe, move and refresh us.'

Harry Oldmeadow, Author of Journeys East