the wounded hare
“One place,” says an inhabitant of Norminton’s future, “is lots of places if you wait long enuf.” But if the novelist is patient enough to work from this perspective, his characters aren’t. Their experience is urgent, phenomenological, human. They live in constant awareness of their environment. As the wounded hare runs from him, Andagin imagines he can “see the ember of its soul rushing to catch up with it”; above them both, the oak canopy clatters and creaks in a bitter wind. Two thousand years later, the land, though reduced, is still a rich source of signifiers, demanding observance, caution or celebration: as she walks through the Bagshot woods, teenager Bobby is equally aware of “dog mess underfoot or bagged and hung from branches”, while her father, irritable, vague yet driven, an obsessive archaeologist soon to be divorced, must keep a constant eye open for illegal motorcyclists joyriding around his beloved Heath. “A low bruise of particulates hangs in the air,” and London can be seen in the distance, “gnawing into England’s flesh”. Read the rest of my review of Geoffrey Norminton’s new novel The Devil’s Highway, up at the Guardian.