starting the fifth chapter of The Fifth Season

Photo by Katriona McCarthy on Unsplash

I have started reading The Fifth Season, as I promised myself I would.

Essun has lost Uche, the man with the stone-eater friend has broken Earth in Yumenes, the floating obelisks have been described, the boy has crawled out of the geode. And I am confused about the chronology of it all, but I’m not terribly worried about that right now.

I am really enjoying it – the language is delicate and beautiful, taking its time to paint the details and create an atmosphere that feels unique. The author has her own voice, and is confident with using it. I like that.

Damaya has been taken from her afraid parents by her Guardian, Syenite has performed her service with the ten-ringer, and Essun has betrayed her identity to the town of Tirimo — first by protecting Uche’s body from the shake, and then by defending herself against the linch mob’s crossbow bolt. Last I heard, at the start of Chapter 5, she was on the run, looking for Jija in the hopes their daughter is still alive.

There has been enough allusion to theme that I feel like I’m getting an edifying read, but not so much that I’m feeling whacked over the head by any kind of moral. I like that too.

I’m expecting this book to be one of those light-reading heavy-lifting metaphors: the subtitle (every age must come to an end) and the epigraph (for all those who have to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question) suggest themes that I dig.

I know that the status quo of our current “age” cannot last forever, and that in our future there is equality, harmony and sustainability for all, regardless of race, gender, religion, whatever. I know that books such as The Broken Earth trilogy are helping to change the narratives we tell ourselves about what is an acceptable or normal state of affairs.

The caste system has been alluded to, the towns are in lockdown with curfews, the sky smells of sulphur, and the feared and loathed orogenes are being pressed into service of the State. I appreciate that Rask was honourable and empathic enough to jeopardise his political position by helping Essun through the locked gates, and I’m sad that he got caught in the ice. I’m glad that Karra copped it though — his hate-filled reactivity is what got him killed. It’s impressive that Essun was able to sense the aquifer breaking underneath her, and I like how this sets up the reader to observe the domino effect this will have on the town and on The Stillness.

In general I appreciate that Jemisin is confidently revealing such dribs and drabs and trusting the reader can hold all the threads together. I trust her, and am happy to be going along for whatever this ride will bring.

a long-ish review-ish post about The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín

Out with the Bathwater: The psychospiritual perils of displacing a whole people along with their mythological heritage

In this reading of Peadar Ó Guilín’s The Call, I wonder
how Australian perceptions could shift to make room for truth in our history.

That said, disclaimer: I ended up writing more than expected about the parallels between The Call and the black history of Australia. It may need to be stated up front that I am as white as it comes, so I recognise the awkwardness of me speaking about the experience of First Nations people. Their experience is not my story to tell. That said, my experience of Australian culture without the inclusion of First Nations people is something I can speak about. I wish our history hadn’t gone down the way it did, and I live with a longing that our communities were informed by the wisdom of our indigenous elders.

You can download this post as a PDF if that’s how you roll.

Ó Guilín, P. (2017). The Call. David Fickling Books.*

brutal and captivating

Sometimes oppo finds end up being among the best books I’ve read. Mostly not. I was saying to a friend the other day that sourcing your books almost exclusively from op shops is a gamble. Oppo books are, come to think of it, the books that others have discarded. So Nikki and I are thinking of dropping this practice – life is just too short to spend hours over months wading through the dross in the hopes of finding a gem.

We often drop $30 or $40 at the oppo and come home with maybe fifteen books, which sit on the shelf for a long time because we know mostly they are long shots. I’m reading only fifteen or twenty books a year at the moment, so we’re accumulating a lot of books that we may never read if we do this even four or five times a year. And we have plans to live in a bus one day, so gathering books at this rate is just no longer practical.

Continue reading “a long-ish review-ish post about The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín”