Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Salon 26 October 2008

I got up early. It was dark and cold, the wind chasing rain around the house, making me feel glad that today I haven't got to go anywhere or actually do anything much - except for an interesting little project at my desk. That could come later, after breakfast, I decided, and in the meantime finished THE WHITE ROAD by Tania Hershman. This is a stimulating collection of short stories with many fantastical ideas coming from the New Scientist popular science magazine.

Tania Hershman uses the extracts as the germ for her stories, and allows her imagination to develop them into sometimes magical scenarios. For instance, in Rainstiffness, which is one of my favourites, she uses the quote 'Plenty of studies have looked at pain associated with weather, especially in people suffering from arthritis.' (New Scientist, March 2006) and goes running with it. What would happen if it wasn't just pain one felt, but something else? Like other explorers of the fabulous, Hershman takes this idea to one of its logical extremes: what would happen if the rain caused paralysis? It is an affecting tale with a poignant ending.

Interspersed are pieces of flash fiction which explore other facets of this business of living; predominantly from the female's point of view. Flora Comes Back begins 'After he married that woman Flora took up night time jogging. She did violence to the pavement while others ate dinner, the air between street and the sole of her shoe the absorber of her shock.' It is a whimsical turning around of ideas, and an arresting thought that conveys much - rather like poetry in fact.

The last story returns to one of the themes of the first story, The White Road (which you can read here, on the New Scientist's website) - temperature. North Cold starts 'There is a small town in the north that is cold all year round.' and then something extraordinary happens...

Which takes me rather neatly back to the weather outside my window in this small town in the north - and it suddenly feels somewhat warmer.

Tania Hershman is going to start her on-line book tour on this blog this Tuesday 28 October, and I am looking forward to being part of it. If you want to read more about this, Tania's page is here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must look out for this because I am fascinated by the way in which the weather affects people both physically and psychologically. I don't have physical symptoms but do have difficulty psychologically when the weather is overcast although not anywhere near as badly as my godson who has gone to live abroad because the depression the British winter caused very nearly crippled him. Living now in southern France, he is a different person.
By the way, I really admire your ability to read before breakfast. I can't do anything before breakfast. I always wake up famished and until I've eaten am good for absolutely nothing.

Sun Oct 26, 05:07:00 pm  
Blogger aliholli said...

just as well aerobics was cancelled then, heh! and I like "got up early"...was that WITH the extra hour then???

Sun Oct 26, 11:23:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, TableTalk - I thought the light affected me too, so I got a bright light...but to be honest it's not made much difference. I think I'm just naturally lethargic..well, sometimes.

Yes, Ali, it was early! 6.30 - which is amazing for me - then I realised it was 'really' 7.30 which was a little disappointing. I thought I was being really good.

Sun Oct 26, 11:42:00 pm  
Blogger Billy said...

Taking an idea to logical extremes, like rain causinfg paralysis ... think I'm hooked. Gotta get this one. Great review.


Tue Oct 28, 06:46:00 pm  
Blogger jem said...

The more people talk about this book the more I need to get it.

I love the sound of Rainstiffness - thats a word I'm going to adopt in everyday dealings - I've got a hearty dose of it today.

Mon Nov 03, 12:19:00 pm  

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