Blog: Witchfinder General – Lazlo Ferran

This week: Sneak Preview, Gravity’s Rainbow review, the End of Formula 1?

Sneak Preview

This week’s is from a a project provisionally entitled December Radio. Hard to say what it’s about at this point without giving it all away but you can be sure there will plenty of tension with a huge climax and even some philosophy for those that have the time. This excerpt holds the reason for this week’s blog title.

December Radio

Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran

All Rights Reserved

Sarah barked at the crows, “Shut yer mouths. I ain’t got no food for you and you int a ‘having my body. Not even when I’m dead. They’s ‘ll probably burn me and if not, I will get a Chist’an burial. She spat into the puddle swilling around her filthy skirt- hem but missed and it splatted against piece of rock. She even found this funny; Sarah had a bright soul. Her long, brown and unwashed hair had fallen loose over her left eye while she had been working at the crosses and she pushed the strands back into place while humming a tune. She had made it up to go with the spell her mother had taught her so long ago:

Firft, third and fourth finger,
From a dying fold’r,
To tickle the Debil
– he’ll hold back the sickle
But afore he’ll do It –
‘E must dance on the ‘eather,
In black temper weather,
Naked as t’wer in cradle.
T’sharpen hif piffle.

How she had wondered when she was a little-un what piffle was! It hadn’t been long afore she found out! She laughed as she sang.

Eh! It’s grand to be a healer – a wise woman – aye a witch! Dancing under the stars in summer, walking the lanes for herbs and not a man to hold her down. She could take a man whenever she wanted! Eh, it was grand until the likes of Matthew ‘opkins came a’hunting. And drowning. But now Merry Charlie was on the throne things were better. It was almost back to the old life. She was stopped in the middle of a laugh when she reached the top of the short hill. Serious for a moment, she turned to look back at the crossroads one last time. Shielding her eyes with her palm against the lowering sun in the blood red sky, she stared sadly at the three corpses hanging like fleshy rags from the crosses made by the townsfolk.

Review of Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

I am about 70 pages from the end of this epic novel. The middle section about Slothrop’s adventures really had me hooked. But they came after page 400 which is leaving it very late; I might well have given up before then if it hadn’t been for a friend’s encouragement. I also love Byron the (eternal) Bulb’s story. It’s very witty and just the sort of thing I love. For instance, my favourite bit of Life of Brian is the alien spaceship bit. I love frivolity which throws the  main story into focus. There is no doubt Pynchon has a keen wit.

I must admit I struggled a lot until half-way through. At 900 pages it is way longer than anything of its kind that I have read before. It has very little chronological structure – indeed very little structure of any kind. The author attempts to make words the fabric of a reality without the meaning that we apply to the one around us but one in which everything is inter-connected. He is reducing reality to a serendipitous flux. I know Pynchon flirted with the beat writers but did he finally settle for the existential school of Camus et al? I haven’t finished yet but that seems so at this point; it’s a kind of American existentialism.

There are a few errors; Luftwaffe pilots did not get ‘furlough’s or holidays for instance. They had to fly until they dropped. There are a few references to things that didn’t come until after the War. So unless this is a time-travel story they are out of place. But fair dos – the book is very complex and Pynchon was writing before the world wide web so its a masterful piece of period depiction (and research), even with the mistakes (if you meant them Thomas, forgive me).

As I understand it, Mr Pynchon is shy of public intention so he’s unlikely to correct me. What are your views?

The End of Formula 1?

Brazil: the last race of the season and you would think it would be happy affair. Brazil is known for its parties – Valentino Rossi used to make a week-long affair or it. But it was like a funeral. Mark Webber retiring, Massa moving down a few teams from Ferrarri and Ross Braun apparently moving on made it it a very sad occasion.

I was not surprised when, somehow, Webber’s tyre went wrong, AGAIN! It even looked staged when Vettel has a similar problem. Perhaps the Red Bull feelers detected a certain sang froid from their fans and decided to stage Vettel’s problem to molify them? It didn’t work for me if that was the case. Mark’s time with Red Bull (not when it was Jaguar, mind) has been a story of mechanical and strategic failures whereas the Golden Boy, Vettel has had all the ‘luck’. Massa seems to have always come out worse when he has gone up against Hamilton and this week was no exception. Crossing the ‘hatched lines’ on pit entry has never been punished before. Why now? And especially why on his last race with Ferrari. It just seems cruel as well as unjust.

It just seems to me there is an element of choreography going on behind the scenes in F1. Some drivers (so called ‘crowd pleasers’) like Vettel and Hamilton are singled out and pushed into the limelight. They more than often than not win in any ruling situation with the stewards. Meanwhile drivers who are probably considered saps by the some cynics behind the scenes – Massa and Webber come to mind – are treated cruelly at times. I think it’s very sad to see a talented driver’s career being curtailed like this. Those responsible – if they are – should be ashamed.

Braun leaving Mercedes? It seems that Mercedes, having bought Braun racing from him, have decided he is no longer so useful to them. This is not just typical of F1 but of most industries. Buy up a successful business – reassuring the owner of their l;ong-term security of course – and then summarily sack them after a few years. The trouble with that is that the business usually fails soon after. Indeed a good example is Jaguar racing which was Stewart before that. Mercedes had better take note.

I won’t be sad if I never see another F1 race.

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