Tuesday, March 22, 2022

shocking news

A couple of quick follow-ups (follows-up?) to the My Abandonment post:

You'll recall my slight bafflement at the odd but pivotal episode in the book where Caroline and her Dad stumble upon an odd little makeshift building where they meet another odd couple (a woman and a boy), get agreement that they can stay the night, and then find the following day that the woman has killed Dad while Caroline and the boy were out sledging (no, not like that). Well, it turns out that Peter Rock's earlier novel The Bewildered featured a group of people who steal copper wire from power lines and have some sort of odd addiction to being in close proximity to high-voltage lines and even getting electric shocks. So I think those in the know (i.e. who've read the earlier book) are meant to draw the inference that the couple here (and their odd dwelling place - the Shock Shack, the Yurt of Hurt, the Shed of Dead, if you will) are perhaps characters from the earlier book and that their odd behaviour and baldness is a side-effect of extended proximity and occasional zappings. This newspaper article reproduced on Rock's website alludes to links between the two novels as well. 

I should add that while I try not to be a language prescriptivist the repeated use of the word "electrocution" to describe the receipt of non-fatal electric shocks made my teeth itch a bit, as the word as originally coined in the late 19th century was a portmanteau of "electricity" and "execution" and specifically referred to an electric shock resulting in death. Buuuuut language evolves and all that stuff and I note through gritted teeth that some (though not all) dictionaries now allow "death or severe injury" as a possible outcome. 

Lastly, I note from the Kirkus review I've already linked to that one of the main protagonists of The Bewildered uses Yukio Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea as a sort of life guide, which seems like a generally bad idea.