Monday, April 14, 2014

THE SHALLOWS by John Langan

image The Shallows
"...granted I was younger, then, and from a distance of four decades, mid-sixty seemed a lot older than it does twenty years on.
I know I am sometimes guilty of slightly going over the top during some child-like enthusiasm of the moment, particularly during a dreamcatcher real-time review, as this is. However, I think I can genuinely say, and will say it again tomorrow, and will say it again in ten years' time (should I still be alive), that 'The Shallows' is one of those truly great fiction works that one rarely encounters during a whole lifetime. I cannot give it more praise other than to compare it with 'Flowers of the Sea' by Reggie Oliver...for reasons of similar subject-matter (inter alia, a man's memory during bereavement after becoming a widower in interface with his wife's prior illness threaded through with haunting horror conceits deriving from the sea and its environs) and its visionary style and its damned well perfection as a story plain and simple, whatever its subject-matter.
I shall never forget the evolving nature of the visions in 'The Shallows', their accretively poetic versions of Jules Verne type apparitions-in-physical-form, the man's hindsight relationship with his son, his allotment garden aligned with Voltaire, his pet crab as perhaps a reminder of what had ailed his wife and of the pet-owner whom she once bravely tried to out-face ... and the monumental or dome-like structures within more common structures such as a house by the sea, structures that seem allied with the other monstrous apparitions - and much more to which I cannot here do justice.
And an ending that one cannot quite believe would be possible and how dare the author leave us with that ending? Except he could only thus dare.
Unaccountably, I was also reminded of 'The Apple Tree' by Elizabeth Bowen (my favourite ghost story written by my favourite writer) blended with William Hope Hodgson!

This is an extract from my real-time review of THE WIDE, CARNIVOROUS SKY by John Langan HERE.

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