Wednesday, February 7, 2024

On the black hill - Bruce Chatwin

I’ve had Bruce Chatwin on my author list for a long time. I thought he was mainly a travel writer: I remember some friends of mine referring to “In Patagonia” and “What am I doing here” as great travel literature. When I found “On the black hill” on the shelves of one of my favorite used book stores I realized that he wrote fiction as well.
Chatwin was a very refined, knowledgeable and polished writer. This novel tells the story of a Welsh family, living on a farm at the border between Wales and England, and it spans over the first eight decades of the twentieth century. Amos Jones is a poorly educated Welsh farmer who gets married to Mary, a lady who’s recently returned to the UK after spending many years in Imperial India. They have two twin babies, Lewis and Benjamin, who are connected in some sort of telepathic way. Lewis is an alpha male, while his brother is the cleverer one. By following the vicissitudes of the Joneses, Chatwin tells us about the lifestyle and cultural aspects of that area. And it is quite surprising to find out how life in this rural corner of one of the most developed countries in the world could be hard and primitive until just a few years ago.
Chatwin’s prose is not a very easy read, so full of rare terms, names of places, birds and plants, so do not expect to just merrily skid through the 250 pages of the novel. Nonetheless, it is a book that will leave a clear mark on your memory.

No comments: