The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
Sarah Hall has an impressive set of credentials. Critical acclaim, big name authors writing book cover praise, writing prizes, and some rave reviews in 'the Guardian'.
Quote: Her first collection, (short stories) The Beautiful Indifference, came out in 2011 to rapturous reviews; the form proved the perfect vehicle for Hall’s particular brand of brawny artistry. Val McDermid said of the taut, brutal opening story, “Butcher’s Perfume”, that it exemplified “the power of fiction to get to the grim heart of things”
I wish I had read this before trying to read 'The Wolf Border'. Then I would have known not to bother.
Oh yes, Ms Hall can write, makes words dance. Her research is impeccable and must have taken some effort and time to pull together. She is a good writer and knows the best techniques.
BUT BUT BUT
why do almost all her characters live such degraded messy lives, this sort of untidy, post modern, black belief that the world is all as nasty as they are, and messy and uncontrollable. Yuk!
I fought through the 50s and 60s for equal rights for women. (And still do!) I fought to make the world a better place through equality and individual responsibility. (And still do) I did not expect the women following my generation to take the advantages we had struggled for and be as bad as the men. We fought so that we would be better than the men. We fought for the right not to be condemned or judged on our looks, our supposed sexuality or sexual behaviour. We fought for the right not to be regarded as a thing to be used and not to be a thing there for men's use. We fought for individual respect as human beings. Have the women following us thrown that away?
Are the women of the generations following mine all bitches on heat who drop their knickers whenever they fancy a man, have no qualms about seducing married men, or 'enjoying' one night stands every night? (All the things we feminists complained of about men's behaviour towards us!)
Rachel, the MC, is everything I despise about the so called 'post feminist' woman so the book was a waste of space for me. The 'deep and meaningful' parallel between wolves and humans was never going to work. I have more respect for wolves and none for humans who make stupid choices knowing they are stupid, or worse, just drift without making choices.
The plot is 'grim, gritty' and depressing, the same can be said for most of the characters. In my terms, 'dismal, sordid and nasty.' And what has the writer revealed to the reader? That the world can have a 'grim heart'. We know that, we see it on the news every night.
No. Books don't have to be sugar coated, but they do have to be honest. And for all the mess and muddle humanity creates each one of us has the ability to make choices and make small individual efforts to 'do things better.' It is dishonest to write only of the 'grim, gritty and depressing' and not show at least one character trying to 'get it right'.
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