23 June, 2013

The Green Child by Herbert Read (1935)

Based on a 12th century Suffolk legend about the appearance of two green-skinned children this, Read's only novel, is utterly unique. The three distinct sections of the story are so contrasting that the juxtaposition simply shouldn't work, but somehow it does. Read, a poet, anarchist and proponent of education through art, pens prose that can be serenely beautiful. Indeed, The Green Child is such a singular work, its meaning so slippery - seemingly eternal yet fleeting and trivial at the same time - that it has been quietly meditating in a corner of my mind for a while as its many layers slowly crystalise.

06 June, 2013

A Winter in the Hills by John Wain (1970)

A pleasant if pedestrian read. Wain is in that Nevile Shute vein of perfectly accomplished writers who never really reach any great heights. A Winter in the Hills tells the story of Roger, an academic, who heads to northern Wales to learn Welsh only to get involved in some local troubles. Wain does evoke the atmosphere of the small villages and the landscape of northern Wales very well but he is probably more notable for his participation in 'The Movement', a 1950s British poetry movement that included Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis and was a backlash against modernism and experimentation. Says it all really.