Teaser Tuesdays: The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Full disclosure: I got this tattoo, below, after reading this piece by Kingsnorth. (It’s more complicated than that, and Kingsnorth did not supply my first exposure to the green man, for the record; IMG_5964but he was a significant inspiration.) If you poke around his website, and his larger presence as a writer, you’ll see that he’s written a good deal about the Norman invasion of 1066; and now, a novel (released last year in Kingsnorth’s native Britain). But there is something different about this book: it is written in a “pseudo-language,” a hybrid between the Old English of the time in question, and the language we speak and understand today. Somewhat in the spirit of the “Landspeak” article I recently posted, Kingsnorth feels that the language in which we express a thing changes the thing being expressed: in other words, it matters.


wake

I am on board with the concept, but I confess, it would be a mistake to underestimate it. The Old English-ish language is a challenge, and casual readers will be dissuaded. It is worth the effort, however. The story inside is riveting and, yes, improved in tone by the impassioned voice of the narrator in his native tongue (or a slightly more readable version thereof). Pro tip: try reading aloud to get the full flavor, and to hear cognates come clear.

I have a few lines for you today that struck me especially, and which are almost understandable.

the fugols that sang here was the fugols i cnawan and the heofon was the heofon of my cildehood and for a small time i felt that my heorte had cum baec to where it sceolde always be. the mist cum round the secg cold as we walced saen lytel and sounds colde be hierde that was lic the sounds of my eald lands when i was still a man

Or, in my own translation,

The birds that sang here were the birds I knew, and the heaven was the heaven of my childhood, and for a small time I felt that my heart had come back to where it should always be. The mist came round the sedge, cold, as we walked saying little, and sounds could be heard that were like the sounds of my old lands, when I was still a man.

I love the sense of place and of belonging to a place – which is one of the losses of the Norman Invasion, in Kingsnorth’s telling – and the tone of mourning. Try it again in the original text. Go ahead. I know I threw you into it in the middle, but a full book of this actually comes to be quite compelling, if you can put in the effort.

Stay tuned for my positive review to come.

Teaser Tuesdays: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

station eleven

You’ll recall that I’m loving this audiobook. Here are the lines that made me snort the other day:

“I’m afraid I’ve no idea,” the tuba had said when Kirsten had asked him for confirmation a few years back. No one had any idea, it turned out. None of the older symphony members knew much about science, which was frankly maddening, given how much time these people had had to look things up on the internet before the world had ended.

Take note, people, we should all be spending more time looking things up on the internet in case of the world ending! (KIDDING – go ride your bike.)

Teaser Tuesdays: The Secret Place by Tana French

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

It’s astonishing how long it’s taking me to listen to this book, isn’t it?* It’s certainly astonishing to me; and let me say that it’s no fault of The Secret Place itself, which is as wonderful as any of Tana French’s novels. (I’ll wait to rank it til I’ve finished, of course.) I’ve already teased you with it once, but here we are again.

secret

Today I’ll share with you a few lines spoken from Frank Mackey (who we remember from The Likeness and Faithful Place) to Detective Stephen Moran.

“Always fuck with people’s expectations, Sunshine. It’s good for their circulation.”

Good advice from Mackey, I’m sure. Keep that in mind, kids. And stick around: one day I will finish this book and review it for you.


*If you’re curious, my lifestyle is much changed these days, now that I don’t have a day job. I no longer have a lengthy commute during which to listen to audiobooks. I am clearly not spending nearly enough time in the gym or doing housework, either. I’m loving the new life; but it’s skewing me much more towards print and away from the audio. Bear with me.

Teaser Tuesdays: The Savage Professor by Robert Roper

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

savage

On just the opening pages, a characterization of person via his books. How could I pass this one by?

Inside, a scouth of books, as the Scotsman said. Some that had been with him since the beginning, since before he went to St. Paul’s, where he had been a subsidy boy, a scholar on the foundation. Books bought as a lonely Bohemian maths grind at LSE, where had gone instead of Cambridge, for “political” reasons. Plain paperbound books in French, bought at outdoor stands along the Seine, as they ought to have been. A solid selection of the approved high-lit product of the last forty years, books spoken of in the pages of the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, Les Temps Modernes. Mystery novels by the hundreds, by the thousands. Oodles of sci-fi, and pornography, an eclectic sampling, still consulted sometimes in the dead of night, with the left hand. Math texts read for brain tuning. The full epidemiological monty, of course, everything in any way relevant to his own lines of study plus all others, everything ever attempted by his busy generation, in special nine-foot-tall shelves of stained cherrywood.

Outstanding, isn’t it? We’ve only just met this character, and now look at what all we know about him, solely by what he stocks on his bookshelves. A whole personal history. We readers are not new to the concept, of course, but it’s nice to see it written out like this. And this is just the beginning!

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

Teaser Tuesdays: Going Driftless by Stephen J. Lyons

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

driftless

I love that there is always something new to learn. In today’s read, I learned about a unique Midwestern region called “the Driftless” that I was unaware of. And how about this rather profound quotation from a local resident.

I ask him if, after forty years in the same place, anything still surprises him.

“Constantly. For one thing, you’re kind of surprised when trees you planted die of old age.”

Stay tuned.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

Teaser Tuesdays: A Buzz in the Meadow by Dave Goulson

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

buzz

My teaser today from A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm is actually a footnote, outside the main text; but I felt it was too profound not to share.

Sadly, funding for taxonomic work such as describing new species has shrivelled in recent decades, so such specialists are now hard to find. Soon there may be no experts left in many fields, so there will be no one to go to for help if you suspect you have discovered a species new to science.

It’s a sad world.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

Teaser Tuesdays: Mislaid by Nell Zink

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

mislaid

Here, I found you an outstanding book! Read this book! First, read this sentence.

When two females vanish from a patriarchy, both of them attached to a homosexual, the ripples can be truly minimal.

Sad, funny, true. That’s my three-syllable review. Seriously, Mislaid has everything in it that is in life, and it’s less than 300 pages. I am impressed.

Stay tuned, as ever, for my longer review.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

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