Hearing of harvests rotting in the valleys…
I didn’t want September to go past without a post, so here is something from the top of my head. I’m reading Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dawn Wind, set in sixth-century Britain, after what she calls the ‘Breaking of Britain’: the final defeat of the British princes by the Anglo-Saxons. Fourteen-year-old Owain survives the battle, and is now wandering around the empty landscape and abandoned towns of his ruined civilization.
Something of a melancholy book, then. It’s very like reading one of those post-apocalyptic novels that kept me in a mild state of trauma towards the end of the Cold War. In fact, it’s very like Empty World, by John Christopher: Owain in Dawn Wind has just found himself saddled with company that he doesn’t really want, in the same way that the lead of Empty World and his companion (can’t remember, sorry) get stuck with a third party that neither of them like. I do remember thinking Empty World was a strangely positive book (possibly something to do with the introvert’s fantasy of waking up one morning and finding that everyone has finally fucked off…). And the historical setting of Dawn Wind provides a degree a comfort: Owain’s world has ended, but we know that the island of Britain continues, and that life goes on, with varying degrees of success and struggle. Let’s see where she takes it in the rest of the book, although Sutcliff has a recurring theme of coming to terms with double identity and living through and past the worst life can offer.
Both these books shit mightily all over post-apocalyptic zombie yawn-fest 28 Days Later (see how my critical powers are at their height), which I saw recently: a puerile film which takes a single plotline from The Stand and bollocks it up. Also: impossible to take seriously having seen Sean of the Dead.