Thursday, May 8, 2014

Read this book: The Wake

Sometimes, when I'm busy writing, I forget to read. This is sometimes a good thing, because it stops me from being too influenced by someone else's voice, and it also stops me from wondering why the hell I'm even bothering since I'll never write anything as awesome as the book I'm currently reading. 

Which brings me to this book: 

This is a book you'll either refuse to read altogether, or you'll take it home and hoard it and pet it under the moonlight and it will be your precious. 

Guess which category it falls into for me? 

This book + me = this guy. 

But gushing Gollum does need to provide a disclaimer. The Wake is set in England in 1066, and it's written in what the author calls a shadow tongue. Which is a sort of pseudo-Old English, tweaked so that modern readers can understand it. Reading aloud helps a bit. Here's an excerpt: 

songs yes here is songs from a land forheawan folded under by a great slege a folc harried beaten a world brocen apart. all is lic a wound unhealan and grene the world open and grene all men apart from the heorte. deofuls in the heofon all men with sweord when they sceolde be with plough the ground full not of seed but of my folc

aefry ember of hope gan lic the embers of a fyr brocen in the daegs beginnan brocen by men other than us. hope falls harder when the end is cwic hope falls harder then in the daegs before the storm the stillness of the age was written in the songs of men

so it is when a world ends

who is thu i can not cnaw but i will tell thu this thing 

be waery of the storm

be most waery when there is no storm in sight 

And now the gushing: 

You guys. If you have any interest whatsoever in reading this book, don't hesitate. It is sheer brilliance. The narrator, Buccmaster, is a fascinating character. He's flawed, he's human, and he's totally relatable. Except when he's not. Because nothing about him feels anachronistic. He's very much a product of his time. No modern sensibilities layered in here to make us feel okay about joining him on his journey. None at all. His sons, at fourteen, are men. He beats his wife when she displeases him, as is his right. 

The back of the book describes The Wake as a post-apocalyptic novel set a thousand years ago. And that's a perfect way to put it. 

Sometimes you forget that for some people, the world has already ended. 


What brilliant books are you currently reading? 

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