Saturday 24 August 2013

After the fire, a still small voice

(Am playing catch-up here on all the posts that have been waiting to be written.)
'After the fire, a still small voice' by Evie Wyld was recommended on Savidge Reads, or rather he mentioned it in passing while singing the praises of 'All the birds, singing', which I put on the wishlist for later. There are some problems with audiobooks; firstly I will sometimes wander away momentarily and not pause it, or I will be listening but not really listening (if you see what I mean) and not realise I have missed some vital point in the story, but more importantly this one had the second CD missing from the box, but I just carried on regardless and hoped I could just catch up with the story. 

The story follows two men, Frank and Leon, separated by a generation but sharing a history that is not made precisely clear but can be guessed at early on in the tale. The chapters alternate between the two of them. It is all very quiet and slow, not very much happens; in fact even when Leon goes off to fight in the Vietnam war, it's as if he is watching the whole thing happen to someone else in slow motion. There is such a strong sense of detachment and isolation, it is in both the events of the story and in the characters of the two men. But everything about the writing is lovely. She creates the atmosphere of rural Australia so deftly, and then introduces us to a scrawny little runt of a girl called Sal who's blunt, no-nonsense view of life forces Frank out of his isolation. Maybe it was a sign that life had actually changed very little over the time gap, since I sometimes had trouble remembering which part of the story we were in, but that did not detract from it, in fact it drew on the sense of similarity between the men, and yet at the same time you were intensely aware of the gulf between them. Then Frank tries to go and visit, but fails at the last hurdle and drives away. I was left a little confused, as if I missed something, but then maybe life is just not that simple.
If you go to Evie Wyld's wiki page you will find links to some of her short stories online, also lovely.

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