Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State. 'Illigitum non carborundum'.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

Comments Policy: I'm not moderating comments, so keep it sane and go away with the spam. Government officials please read disclaimer at bottom of page.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Review: That Bastard Hamish Clayton & His Genius: The Pale North.

The publisher’s blurb for Hamish Clayton’s novel, The Pale North reads:

1998, Wellington. A series of catastrophic earthquakes has left the city destroyed. Returning to the ruin from London, a New Zealand writer explores the devastation, compelled to find out for himself what has become of the city he left years ago. As he drifts through the desolate streets, home now to the shell-shocked and dispossessed, he finds among the survivors a woman and a child. And although they are haunted, hostile and broken, the strangers feel eerily familiar to him: as if they promise the answers to the mysteries he once swore to leave behind.

A layered meditation on love, history, creativity and loss, The Pale North is an audacious and disarming novel, a forensic journey into one writer's short but singularly brilliant body of work.

At the end of my review of Greg McGee’s The Antipodeans, like a dumb, impetuous clever dick prick, I wrote this on reading merely 17% of Hamish Clayton’s second novel (ebook format) The Pale North.

17% into The Pale North and the words in my mind so far are: over-worked and arty sentimentality. Our individual reactions to a worthy work of art are subjective: some works will transect with our experiences and aesthetics and speak to us, some won’t. There’s a lot of book to read yet, however, as I crustify into my middle age years, I like a starker prose than this, with harder edges.

Thankfully I redeemed myself (a bit) at 25% by writing an addendum, formatting it in bold trying to recover my soul:

25% into The Pale North, I retract the above. I'm getting it now, the words occupying my mind have changed to 'aberrant; beguiling; singular talent, and treat'. Also, sentimentality is the point; Mr Clayton has cracked through the crust. Indeed, beginning to view this novel as a stunner. Looks like Wulf remains on the reading list.

Noting the review of art is all about me – it has to be because I’m the point and then the filter - can I excuse my rashness into that first statement? It's interesting Clayton was prescient to the response of the premature half-wit reviewer:

… But then he asked me what I’d remembered of that first exhibition [snip]. I described what I’d seen as clearly as I could remember, but Colin only narrowed his eyes as he listened, focusing on some far-off but internal horizon, scanning for meaning and finding my account wanting on some score or other. He listened in silence as I revered what I could recall of those photographs: their calm, arcane order, the sombre grace of their elegy. He seemed unmoved but then sighed and turned away.

I asked him what I’d missed and he laughed quietly and said, ‘The whole point.’

I’d been in a ruthless stage of editing my own script, trying to pare it down to concise sophistication, and was initially immune to Clayton’s swirling ordinary words and the humanity which lives too easily (damn it) in them. Mea culpa.

I don’t know if what I write is any good – see, me again. After realising I couldn’t write a short story – either I didn’t like the form enough, or perhaps I was just useless at it - I never submitted the first novel I wrote – it’s awful, so never will – and am at sea on the one being rendered down; the only solid fact being I have no judgement on assessing my own work (none at all). And so – Murphy’s law - at this tenuous time, crashing from his celestial orbit above my fragile confidence too easily tipped into paralysing self-doubt (please forgive me Mike Hosking) comes Hamish ruddy Clayton and his bloody masterpiece that creeps up on you, The Pale North. Clayton is a dangerous man because he makes me want to stop reading. He makes me want to stop reading, because he is so good he makes me think I must stop writing for all is hopeless in the face of his words … but then what would I have left without writing?

Wine. Yes. But wine alone is not enough, certainly not the next morning. Please realise Mrs H and I live in a house, three in fact (one munted thank you, no fuck you, EQC – [from the Big One out of Christchurch]), wearing our happy domesticity and well-worn love (and better, friendship) like a glove over top of the world I otherwise live in words, so that doesn’t count, I don’t think.

If I could read Clayton’s human stories, imagery and busted Wellington without an ego, and a need, I reckon the overwhelming residue would be the word warmth from a finely honed artistry and a love of art, despite he references the winds from Antarctica in The Pale North too much – three times by 44% in (there, see, I can still be critical).

Damn that man. Utter bastard. I say beguiling, the publisher says disarming … you should read him; two novels so far, Wulf, followed by The Pale North, though I can only recommend the second (highly), I’ve not read the first, yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment