I adore the Bryant and May series by the always brilliant Christopher Fowler. This story was once again absolutely thrilling, in turns hilarious, poignant, informative, exciting... Towards the very end of the book, in addition to a massive twist which I hadn't seen coming at all (I am usually quite good at spotting this kind of thing), a paragraph really struck me in light of this year's events. Here it is:
"I believe some people are cursed. Not just by poverty, although that will be the easy answer affixed to my story by the nation's hand-wringers. We are cursed by its by-product, a debilitating lack of confidence. It is why we stay silent, why we are controlled, why we apologize, why we are afraid. We are overruled by the ones who expect to be heard, and as they destroy our lives we thank them for it."
Oranges and Lemons by Christopher Fowler, Bantam Books, 2020
Now that I have finished Oranges and Lemons, I have gone back to Robert Mcfarlane's stupendous Underland. I have loved all of Robert Mcfarlane's books, but this one really has a darker than usual underbelly (well, it is about what's happening beneath our feet, after all). His account of the very real scarring effects of human activity and destruction on our natural world and their often terrifying consequences is so utterly fascinating that it is very difficult indeed to put the book down. You can see the amount of stickers I have stuck along the way to mark the passages containing elements I wish to go back to later.
Yesterday, I started the section set in Greenland, and one paragraph in particular stopped me in my tracks. We are in the middle of a pandemic, one most probably created by the encroachment of human presence on natural spaces previously devoid of it. Think Coronovirus is bad? Read on...
"On the Yamal peninsula, between the Kara Sea and the Gulf of Ob, 4,500 miles of permafrost thawed. Cemeteries and animal burial grounds turned to slush. Reindeer corpses that had died of anthrax seventy years earlier were exposed to the air. Twenty-three people were infected, their skin blackened with lesions. One, a child, died.[...] Russian epidemiologists predicted other releases from Arctic burial sites and shallow graves: smallpox from victims who had perished in the late 1800s, giant viruses that had been long-dormant in the frozen bodies of mammoths."
Underland by Robert Mcfarlane, Penguin Books, 2020
I think therefore I write.
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