The Voice That Thunders

I can't believe that I had never even heard of this extraordinary collection of essays and speeches by Alan Garner. It popped up when I was searching Brotherhood Books, and I ordered it from curiosity, but I am so glad that I did. Reading Garner's reflections, spanning twenty years, on writing, research, the land, history and archaeology, myth and language, mental illness and the creative process, was such a privilege. I read it slowly, to savour every word, and I have a feeling this will be a volume that I will return to over and over, for inspiration and wisdom.

Garner is not an easy writer, nor an easy man, one suspects, but his reverence for old stories, and for the corner of his country in Cheshire  that his family has inhabited for generations, parallels the Australian Aboriginal experience -- it's no wonder he ended up writing Strandloper, the story of William Buckley, a Cheshire-born convict who escaped, then was rescued by and lived with the Wathaurong people for thirty two years. That book is the next on my to-read pile.

I found myself challenged by some of the things Garner says, but there is no doubt that he takes his responsibilities as a story-teller and a guardian of myth very seriously indeed. I was taken with a small school group to meet Alan Garner at The Little Bookroom in the early 80's; we were awed enough back then, but if I'd read this book first, I would have been completely speechless.

I've just done a clearout of books. I don't think I will ever discard this one. It might even join a very select collection indeed: books too precious to lend.

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