Monday, February 9, 2015

Jolly Good Stuff

Forgot to mention the other day, when I was having a good moan at myself about being so lazy in my reading, that I've been steadily and enjoyably moving through the poems in the very tasty anthology A Luxury We Cannot Afford and am now at the mid-point thereof. Got it on the recommendation of the hierophant who is usually right about these things and was doubly so in this case. Great idea to base an entire collection around the Man who has cast such a long shadow over the politics of this Far Place for seemingly always. It shouldn't work, but it does. Every contributor (so far) seems to hit top form, as if dealing with a colossus demands something pretty colossal in response - or at least something that's really meant, fully considered, if you see what I mean. And the poems seem to grow in stature, even the slightest of them, simply as part of the collective whole.

I thought Gwee Li Sui's foreword alone was worth the price of admission: a wonderfully measured, intelligent attempt to do justice to its subject in just four pages.

And whilst I'm feeling full of praise, I have to say that Peter Dickinson's The Devil's Children will stick in my mind as a genuinely imaginative, beautifully achieved little novel, that does some big things within the confines of its genre (which, I suppose, might be loosely characterised as disaster lit for teens.) On paper the idea of having a feisty young heroine team up with a group of Sikhs looking to find a home in an England that has turned its back on any kind of machinery and degenerated into a kind of mediaeval primitivism again shouldn't work. And yet again it does. What a relief to escape the usual cliches.


Trebuchet said...

Ooh, the Changes trilogy was my first exposure to Peter Dickinson, and I remember how very riveting 'The Weathermonger' was to a little kid trudging up the hill to school which just didn't seem as exciting.

Meanwhile, I'm reading Helen Waddell's 'The Wandering Scholars' (from 1927, hard to find, excellent for all literature teachers), and Chang Ha-Joon's 'Economics: A User's Guide'.

Brian Connor said...

The image of your good self as a little kid trudging up a hill with dreams of controlling the weather - I take it that was what was on your mind - is deeply touching, and very funny, at one and the same time. (Can't imagine anyone else I know having heard of the Changes trilogy, by the way.)

Shocked to read of your involvement with the dismal science. Leave it alone, say I.

Many thanks for the Ms Waddell reference. Never heard of the lady before this but a quick check on-line suggests the tome in question is well worth attending to. Nobody these days seems to bother much about those jongleur types, which is, as usual, their loss.