A New Year. A New Year, with all the inevitability, hope and curious letdown of another night, and another day and another morning and another evening. Another number notched. Another year rolled into. Another year done.
It’s raining. It’s rained on and off for a good week now; blanket-thick, grey, fat rolls of rain that smother the light from the day and turn everything into twilight. What else to do on such a day than to hole up and burrow down and read.
I’m bathing in a sea of comic books, with plots so dense and abstract, that I wallow in the dynamism of the page, and of the colours, and the sharp nuances of character and relationships, captured in a few inked letters on a page. I love the precision of comics; the blink-sharp incision of a frame on the page, the way it hangs in the moment of the book itself.
I’ve discovered Sappho through If Not, Winter : Fragments of Sappho by Anne Carston. It is a book of space and restraint and I am drunk on it. I am drunk on the white space and the edged words and the way that there is so much caught in this poetry, so much that is said and unsaid. The spoken. The unspoken. A poet of nothing and of everything. I think I am obsessed.
I’m reading Watership Down; a book so seared to me visually by the film adaptation, that I had forgotten the thick and fat beauty of the original text. Rabbits. Rabbits, and yet, in this sprawling, rich Tolkien-esque saga, there is so much here to enjoy. It is a rich, layered wild in this book, and it is one that seems to revel in a slow read. An indulgent read.
(If I ask anything of you this year, it is to give yourself a slow read. An indulgent read. A selfish, generous, passionate read. Tell nobody of it. Hold it to yourself. Delight in that dialogue between you and the text and revel in your read. There is such power in this space).
The idea of wild and the wilderness is something I keep returning to here, now, in this mid-space between Christmas and reality, this pause of the world; the wild is so much in children’s literature and yet, so rarely expressed. Piers Torday‘s potent The Last Wild trilogy deals with the loss of the wilderness and the ramifications of that upon our world. The River Singers by Tom Moorhouse tells the story of a band of water voles, and I am excited to see a sequel in this series. Richard Adams, of course, is one of the foremost authors in this area, with the richness of Watership Down and the fantastically dark , more adult, and quite vicious Shardik.
The unknowable nature of the wild; the dark. The edge of the world. I think Susan Cooper had it right; that there is a thinness to this world at times. Maybe this time is when we feel it the most; the nights that are not quite dark and then, at another glance, a moment later, pitch-black and lightless. The thin-grey light of the half-day. The rain, the wind. The point of the year where the world is less ours and more somebody elses. Something wild.
The telephone wires are dancing with the wind; and the rain is marking itself against my window, burning the glass with its insistent presence.
I shall go and read.