Friday, July 17, 2009

Melvin Burgess and Tomato Blight

Last week I read two Melvin Burgess books I'd not seen before. First, I read his first novel, The Cry of the Wolf, which is not the easiest book to find in the US. If I didn’t know, I would never have guessed it was a Burgess book, or that it was written in 1990 and not, say, 1965. It feels very old-fashioned both in its writing and in the sort of story it is. Even the cover is terribly old-timey (though later editions have incongruously updated designs.)

It’s about the last wild wolves in England, a small population that had survived undiscovered in a remote area until a strangely evil hunter learns of them and sets about killing them, pack by pack, just for the satisfaction of wiping out the species. All is grimly going according to plan, except for one plucky cub who just won't die.

And then I read The Ghost Behind the Wall, where a small-for-his-age boy finds that he can crawl through his building's air ducts and peer into other tenants' apartments through the grates, and/or climb into the apartments and do various petty meannesses. And then he finds out that he's not alone up there...

It's sort of well known among those who know me that one of my biggest fears is of being watched. It's not a very attractive trait, I know, and of course the rational part of my head knows full well that no one actually cares enough about whatever boring thing I'm doing to go out of their way to watch. But obviously the thought of ghosts—which really are just invisible beings hovering about and spying, and possibly also dead relatives judging you—are a special terror for me. Also I live in an apartment. With air ducts. So it was horrifying read, even though it quickly enough turns into a story that's not much about ghosts or mean boys at all.

So, perhaps not his two best efforts ever, but they can't all be Bloodtide. This week I'm looking to read any other of Burgess' books I've not yet read. Nicholas Dane is on it's its [ack!] way to me as we speak!

Additionally, I've got the tomato blight! Check out this pitiful specimen that was looking nowhere near this bad just a week ago. Shoulda kept a closer eye on it.. I had to "rogue" it today (which is what I have to say instead of "pulled it out by the roots" now that I'm pretending to be a horticulturalist.) Fingers crossed that the rest of my little guys didn't catch it.

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