10 March 2012

'On Extinction'

Mel Challenger is detained by flu in the family so is unable to take part in an event at the Bath Literary Festival today. I will be there to read some extracts from her book on her behalf, and to talk about the issues it raises. Please join us if you can.

Here is an extract from her marvelous, disturbing account of an abandoned whaling station in South Georgia:
Beyond this large building, freakish instruments and workings cluttered the landscape. There was an overgrown toothed object like a saw, curved and beautiful as a Norse carving. I could see chains under fragile bonnets of snow with links bigger than my hands. In the distance, the disintegrating platforms of mortuary metal were apparent, proportioned to the massive bodies of whales. A short walk away from the strandline, I stumbled across a large tarnished tank on which the words BLUBBER COOKERY were painted in faded white lettering. At the front was a bolted, square-shaped opening. I immediately thought of the pictures in my childhood copy of Hansel and Gretel, the entrance into the oven where the siblings shoved the witch who held them captive to satisfy her monstrous appetite. But perhaps most startling of all was one of several oil vats, a round structure of astounding proportions, bulging through time and disuse. Sunlight nudged into its snowy circular border, and I too nudged forward, amazed, appalled, snow falling soundlessly around me.

1 comment:

Stroppy Author said...

Wow - wish I could get to Bath. Just have to buy the book, I guess...