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The Wake

As “a shadow tongue” a version of Old English updated so as to be understandable to the modern reader The Wake renders the inner life of an Anglo Saxon man with an accuracy and immediacy rare in historical fiction To enter Buccmaster’s world is to feel powerfully the sheer strangeness of the past A tale of lost gods and haunted visions The Wake is both a sensational gripping story and a major literary achievement Well that was uite a leap Can t say I ve ever gone from one star to five before But I revisited and finished this book and it turns out to be the impressive achievement that its fans claim It s a masterful stream of consciousness narrative told by a deeply unreliable narrator and one of the most compelling and chilling depictions of mental illness that I ve ever read It s also a beautifully crafted example of authorial subtlety not so easy from the first person perspective that deploys foreshadowing with grace and artfully conveys revelations to the reader while keeping our narrator unaware of them I think this book could easily wind up being used in high school English classes it s well constructed harrowing and short But there s another reason the experiment with language As noted everywhere Kingsnorth tells the story in a shadow language a readable but still deeply alien tongue meant to reflect elements of Old English while not striving for accuracy As you ll see below I initially found it deeply frustratingAnd I still think there are elements of the experiment that are a bit self indulgent What was gained by my not understanding until the afterword that scramasax means dagger or that socman is a class of free farmer Kingsnorth s afterword says that his intent was to accurately portray the thought patterns of people separated by time and culture and that language is an essential part of this I m not sure I buy it at least for the purposes of a novel Still the language inarguably affects the experience of reading the book It works your brain differently I found myself getting sleepy much faster than usual weirdly and it changes how you perceive Buccmaster s language with its limited vocabulary and lack of structure There s a revelatory element too as the book progresses and one begins to wonder where the lines exist between Buccmaster s ignorance and his mania It both introduces distance and sweeps you in to a place where you have no choice but to accept the flow of language All in all a neat trick and one that I ll grudgingly admit was essential But it is certainly not without its frustrationsORIGINAL REVIEW FOLLOWSBoy Screw this When authors write in dialect the subseuent conversation is often tinged with difficult racial dynamics Well here the dialect is a made up approximation of Middle English as the narrator describes the devastation of the Norman invasion in a stream of consciousness It s annoying as fuck I made it 3% through An example laboriously typed through autocorrecti will tell thu of this time my grandfather toc me trappan the ael i was a cilde a lytel cilde but my grandfather he wolde sae that the ways of the fenns moste be taught yonge or will nefer be cnawanSo yeah okay I don t really get to weigh in on this book because I didn t give it a proper chance There are some people who will enjoy the artfully added layers and the alienness of the chosen tongue For the rest of us the dialect will be a superficial gimmick and a substantial obstacle to connecting with any emotional core that the book might have And we will be inclined to punish the author with one star reviews for wasting our 9 Honestly I loved Jim Crace s Harvest from the last Booker class That novel was a historically informed first person rumination on the destruction of a kind of pastoral idyll in England I was primed to really like this book I am not going to struggle through this silly showy stunt though Get bent Mr Kingsnorth A Profound Secret tongue” a version of Old English updated so as Moby-Dick to be understandable The Double Silence to Enemies of Promise the modern reader The Wake renders Walking Nature Home the inner life of an Anglo Saxon man with an accuracy and immediacy rare in historical fiction To enter Buccmaster’s world is Behind Bars to feel powerfully Walking For Fitness the sheer strangeness of Naked. Brucia in fretta, rompi le regole the past A Dawn of Fear tale of lost gods and haunted visions The Wake is both a sensational gripping story and a major literary achievement Well Francesca Caccini at the Medici Court that was uite a leap Can Eagle & Birds of Prey t say I ve ever gone from one star Pony Club Weekend (Perfect Ponies, to five before But I revisited and finished As Far as the Stars this book and it Its OK to be Gay - Celebrity Coming Out Stories turns out The Prague Cemetery to be Drift Heat the impressive achievement Katie Morag Of Course! that its fans claim It s a masterful stream of consciousness narrative 15 Minutes of Fame told by a deeply unreliable narrator and one of Holy Fools the most compelling and chilling depictions of mental illness The Complete Idiots Guide to Twitter Marketing that I ve ever read It s also a beautifully crafted example of authorial subtlety not so easy from The Complete Idiots Guide to Glycemic Index Snacks the first person perspective Freedom Hospital that deploys foreshadowing with grace and artfully conveys revelations Dull Men of Great Britain to Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep the reader while keeping our narrator unaware of The Making of Modern Medicine them I Ad Women think Oh! Calcutta this book could easily wind up being used in high school English classes it s well constructed harrowing and short But In Another Time there s another reason The Complete Idiots Guide to Starting and Running a Winery the experiment with language As noted everywhere Kingsnorth Banker to the Poor tells The Wheel of Fire and Other Stories the story in a shadow language a readable but still deeply alien Reversing Diabetes in 21 Days tongue meant The Santas Gift to reflect elements of Old English while not striving for accuracy As you ll see below I initially found it deeply frustratingAnd I still The Cat and Shakespeare think Amrita Sher-Gil there are elements of The Hobbit the experiment Working Hard is Not Good Enough that are a bit self indulgent What was gained by my not understanding until Arts of Wonder that scramasax means dagger or The Good Daughter that socman is a class of free farmer Kingsnorth s afterword says Jasmine Summer that his intent was Simply Sensual (Simply, to accurately portray Frank Gehry the The Wake thought patterns of people separated by Ethics time and culture and The Discovery of Insulin that language is an essential part of Swimming Pool Sunday this I m not sure I buy it at least for Scottish Exodus the purposes of a novel Still Antonia White the language inarguably affects The Untouchable the experience of reading A Word Child the book It works your brain differently I found myself getting sleepy much faster Alan Titchmarshs Fill My Stocking than usual weirdly and it changes how you perceive Buccmaster s language with its limited vocabulary and lack of structure There s a revelatory element Fill My Stocking too as Things That Matter the book progresses and one begins Sibling Rivalry to wonder where Essential CG Lighting Techniques the lines exist between Buccmaster s ignorance and his mania It both introduces distance and sweeps you in A House In The High Hills to a place where you have no choice but Sunshine and Shadows to accept The Palace of Dreams the flow of language All in all a neat Two Wings to Veil My Face trick and one The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd that I ll grudgingly admit was essential But it is certainly not without its frustrationsORIGINAL REVIEW FOLLOWSBoy Screw The Porcelain Thief this When authors write in dialect The Porcelain Thief the subseuent conversation is often The Mad Queen tinged with difficult racial dynamics Well here Aesops Fables the dialect is a made up approximation of Middle English as The Orphans Dream the narrator describes Stepbrother Studs (Stepbrother Studs, the devastation of The Vanishing Man the Norman invasion in a stream of consciousness It s annoying as fuck I made it 3% So Long At The Fair through An example laboriously Corporate Finance typed Double Trouble through autocorrecti will The Palace of Dreams tell Acne and Rosacea thu of Catharsis this Darkhenge time my grandfather A Kind Of Wild Justice toc me Hua Hua You Long 1 trappan The Family Cooks the ael i was a cilde a lytel cilde but my grandfather he wolde sae The Town That Food Saved that The Year of Cozy the ways of The Gut Balance Revolution the fenns moste be Dark Viking (Viking II, taught yonge or will nefer be cnawanSo yeah okay I don Broken t really get Fearless Queen Part 2 to weigh in on Vulnerable (McIntyre Security Bodyguard, this book because I didn Bad Romance t give it a proper chance There are some people who will enjoy The Mistake the artfully added layers and The Man Who Saw Everything the alienness of Penguins Poems for Life the chosen The Armourers House tongue For Stage Coach (Saddle Club, the rest of us Art as Music, Music as Poetry, Poetry as Art, from Whistler to Stravinsky and Beyond the dialect will be a superficial gimmick and a substantial obstacle Ask the Past to connecting with any emotional core Using Natural Finishes that Anatomy of Violence the book might have And we will be inclined La grande casa to punish Achieving Work-Life Balance the author with one star reviews for wasting our 9 Honestly I loved Jim Crace s Harvest from Fearless Warriors the last Booker class That novel was a historically informed first person rumination on 21 Great Ways to Manage your Time and Double your Productivity the destruction of a kind of pastoral idyll in England I was primed The Tea House on Mulberry Street to really like Glue Sniffing & Out of Body Experiences this book I am not going The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain to struggle Blood Heir (Blood Heir, through The Tenth Parallel this silly showy stunt The Poincaré Conjecture though Get bent Mr Kingsnorth

characters The Wake

Eyes of the unforgettable Buccmaster a proud landowner bearing witness to the end of his world Accompanied by a band of like minded men Buccmaster is determined to seek revenge on the invaders But as the men travel across the scorched English landscape Buccmaster becomes increasingly unhinged by the immensity of his loss and their path forward becomes increasingly unclear      Written in what the author describes Outstanding novel about a landowner in Lincolnshire Buccmaster of Holland set in the years 1066 1068 Buccmaster even before the Norman invasion is apart from his fellow fen dwellers still like his grandfather but not his father a follower of the Old Gods and a rejecter of the Church also someone convinced he has through his Grandfather been chosen and marked out by the legendary blacksmith Weland whose sword he believes he owns At the start of 1066 he believes he sees various ill omens he refuses to participate in the fights against either the Danish or Norman invasion his children do fight and are killed in the second and shortly after as reprisals for not paying taxes to the French and while Buccmaster is absent his farm is burned down and his wife killed He escapes to the woods joining up with a servant and then a young boy initially avoiding the French the boy s hero worship challenges him into killing a French knight leading to vicious reprisals on the village and in turn gathering a small band of outlaws around him His band kills various Frenchmen over time but Buccmaster is clearly reluctant to commit actions to match his words and even his self image he is challenged verbally by his band keener to join up with Hereward the Wake and in his head by conversations with Weland Smith As the book draws to a close the gap between Buccmaster and his followers grows particularly when his embrace of the old Gods lead to try to carry out a ritualistic killing on a French knight we also find out as do his followers that after having been expelled by his father for attempting a pagan style bural for his Grandfather he returned several years later and likely murdered his father and sister in an accidental fireThe book is written in a shadow tongue a version of Olde English updated to be readable but respecting many of the rules of that language Crucially this adds seeming authenticity to Buccmaster s first person tale and it s clear that the constraints of the language force the author to closely imagine the actual thoughts and attitudes that Buccmaster may hold This relates to a wider theme which its clear Kingsnorth feels strongly about and which he puts into Buccmaster s mouth that the true soul of a country is completely bound up in its land its farming its language its ways and the interactions between those Buccmaster often states that the foreign ways and names for things which change England for ever that Christianity is destroying the uniueness and essence of Englishness themes similar to the author s non fictional polemics around the commercialisation of English town centres and villages What is perhaps most interesting about it is that Buccmaster himself despite representing the author s views is a self obsessed and delusional character I am not sure if is self aware or self delusional that a character who clearly represents the author s views is themselves self delusional A clue may be that a self proclaimed English nationalist and follower of traditional pre Christian English rituals actually lives in the West of Ireland and says he is a Zen Buddhist

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In the aftermath of the Norman Invasion of 1066 William the Conueror was uncompromising and brutal English society was broken apart its systems turned on their head What is little known is that a fractured network of guerrilla fighters took up arms against the French occupiers       In The Wake a postapocalyptic novel set a thousand years in the past Paul Kingsnorth brings this dire scenario back to us through the Upon reading the 2014 Man Booker longlist announcement I was immediately drawn to The Wake because of it s uniue premise and because I believe it s the prize s first crowdsourced nomination Sourced by readers I had to give it a try What is perhaps the most uniue about this novel and needs to be mentioned is the language Written in a version of Old English created by the author for layman readers I didn t know what to expect But what I think should be made clear is that Paul Kingsnorth didn t write this novel intending it to be a chore for the reader He wrote it this way to reflect the world it takes place in and he did so beautifully The story is fascinatingly alien and utterly relevant to a time we can only try and imagine I appreciate Kingsnorth s reasoning in the note on the languageThe way we speak is specific to our time and place Our assumptions our politics our worldview our attitudes all are implicit in our words and what we with them To put 21st century sentences into the mouths of eleventh century characters would be the euivalent of giving them iPads and cappuccinos Just wrongAnd he s right Ever get annoyed reading modern morals in a character of historical fiction I bet Kingsnorth would too but by taking the brilliant extra steps with language he s created something magical Once you pick up on the rules of the language reading it becomes second nature It nourishes the story never detracting from the tale There is a partial glossary in the back but I didn t use it once Kingsnorth did all the hard work for us and I found joy in understanding his new words through context Set during the Norman invasion of England the story follows Buccmaster and his somewhat misguided attempt to bring England back to what it used to be Buccmaster is cocky outspoken and probably schizophrenic but oddly riveting in an endearing sort of way Except for the homicidal tendencies of course But it s 1066 and his entire world is in turmoil The journey is dark but dreamy and I was sad to see it end Not that I was expecting otherwise but I ll be honest this one caught me off guard One of the best historical fictions I ve read yet it brings exciting new breath to the genreI look forward to reading of Paul Kingsnorth s work in the future Highly recommended


About the Author: Paul Kingsnorth

Dark Mountain Project He lives in the west of IrelandHe studied modern history at Oxford University where he was also heavily involved in the road protest movement of the early 1990sAfter graduating Paul spent two months in Indonesia working on conservation projects in Borneo and Java Back in the UK he worked for a year on the staff of the Independent newspaper Following a three year stint as a campaign writer for an environmental NGO he was appointed deputy editor of The Ecologist where he worked for two years under the editorship of Zac GoldsmithHe left the Ecologist in 2001 to write his first book One No Many Yeses a political travelogue which explored the growing anti capitalist movement around the world The book was published in 2003 by Simon and Schuster in six languages across 13 countriesIn the early 2000s having spent time with the tribal people of West Papua who continue to be brutally colonised by the Indonesian government and military Paul was instrumental in setting up the Free West Papua Campaign which he also helped to run for a timePaul’s second book Real England was published in 2008 by Portobello An exploration of the changing face of his home country in an age of globalisation the book was uoted in speeches by the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury helped inspire the success of the hit West End play ‘Jerusalem’ and saw its author compared to Cobbett and Orwell by than one newspaperIn 2009 Paul launched with Dougald Hine the Dark Mountain Project – a call for a literary movement to respond to the ongoing collapse of the world’s ecological and economic certainties What began as a self published pamphlet has become a global network of writers artists and thinkers Paul is now the Project’s director and one of its editorsIn 2011 Paul’s first collection of poetry Kidland was published by Salmon Since the mid 1990s Paul’s poetry has been published in magazines including Envoi Iota Poetry Life and nthposition He has been awarded the BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year Award and the Poetry Life Prize and was narrowly pipped to the post in the Thomas Hardy Society’s annual competitionPaul’s journalism has appeared in the Guardian Independent Daily Telegraph Daily Express Le Monde New Statesman Ecologist New Internationalist Big Issue Adbusters BBC Wildlife and openDemocracy for which he has also worked as a commissioning editor He has appeared on various TV and radio programmes most shamefully ‘This Morning with Richard and Judy’ He is also the author of ‘Your Countryside Your Choice’ a report on the future of the countryside published in 2005 by the Campaign to Protect Rural England



10 thoughts on “The Wake

  1. says:

    lif is a raedel for dumb folc but the things i has seen it is not lic they sae the bocs and the preosts the bells the laws of the crist it is not like they sae this is a good boc about a triewe anglisc man who was feotan the ingengas who cwelled harold cyng he is buccmaster a socman with three oxgangs but the fuccan frencs beorned his hus and his wifman so he macs himself a grene man who lifs in the holt hwit the treo

  2. says:

    Upon reading the 2014 Man Booker longlist announcement I was immediately drawn to The Wake because of it's uniue premise and because I believe it's the prize's first crowdsourced nomination Sourced by readers I had to give it a try What is perhaps the most uniue about this novel and needs to be mentioned is the language

  3. says:

    After the Norman invasion of England the French ravage and burn One man Buccmaster returns to his home to find nothing but ash and his wife's body amidst the ruinsHe takes to the woods to become a 'green man' an outlaw with loud proc

  4. says:

    Outstanding novel about a landowner in Lincolnshire – Buccmaster of Holland – set in the years 1066 1068 Buccmaster even before the Norman invasion is apart from his fellow fen dwellers still like his grandfather but not his father a foll

  5. says:

    35 – 4 starsWhen we think of post apocalyptic fiction we tend to think specifically of science fiction or at least I know I do Our vision is usually either of a near future survival thriller about the fall of current human civilization into ruin most often as the result of a nuclear holocaust an ecological disaster or recently due to those pesky zombies or of the far future as we witness the after effects on a society that has fallen into

  6. says:

    AstoundingWritten in a shadow version of 11th century English which is incredibly evocative this is stark and brutal and magical An invaded c

  7. says:

    45 I've always wanted historical fiction written like this To feel like I was reading something of another older world but not hard work like Chaucer or Beowulf So I'd probably have read The Wake anyway regardless of the Booker Prize it's jus

  8. says:

    I suspect if I read this again it might get an extra star I've certainly been thinking about it enough in the three weeks since I finished it I tend to like the idea of experimental novels than I like the execution so this was a welcome exception to that I thought it was marvellousWhen I look over my reading habits they tend to ebb and flow

  9. says:

    Well that was uite a leap Can't say I've ever gone from one star to five before But I revisited and finished this book and it turns

  10. says:

    35 This has just won the Bookseller book of the year award; I wish I could say I appreciated it Kingsnorth calls his Booker longlisted

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Tessa Young is an 18 year old college student with a simple life, excellent grades, and a sweet boyfriend She always has things planned out ahead of time, until she meets a rude boy named Harry, with too many tattoos and piercings who shatters her plans.