Wall of Days, by Alastair Bruce
The remarkable achievement of Alastair Bruce's Wall of Days is that this gathering conundrum never becomes part of an abstract or philosophical debate, or a ‘mere’ postmodernist game, but is fully embedded in the facts of a riveting and overwhelming story, told by a consummate storyteller who appears well set to become a defining novelist of our time.
It has been raining here for ten years. I keep an accurate record of time and can state this with no fear of contradiction. There have been whole days when it hasn't rained and most days it stops for a few hours. But these are pauses in a relentless fall that promises to one day submerge this island. It is already saturated in places. The marshes have doubled in size since I arrived and the cliffs to the north are falling into the bay, their mud walls no match for the rain. It is a place, this island, that is neither water nor land, an in-between world, a world in transition. When I walk through the grasslands and the marshes to the peat fields in the south I can feel the ground give way beneath my feet as if it were afloat. Sooner or later all that will be left will be the rocky hill on which I have made my home. The cave in the hill is the only place on the island that remains dry, and it is warm. I keep a fire lit and have fashioned a door, using the raft that brought me to this island. The rain is sometimes so light it is like mist. I can see the mist creeping into the cave from below the door. It rolls in off the ocean and settles over the marshes. It swirls, eddies, faces begin to form. At the end of each day I make a small mark with a stone on the wall of the cave. The seventh line I draw crosses the previous six. At the end of fifty-two of these plus one extra mark or two extra every fourth year I start a new row. Last night I reached the end of the tenth. Tonight I will start another. Every year with the last of the marks I remember being told why we measure time in this way - with one or two extra days in a year - but every year I realise I have forgotten the reason. I imagine it is something to do with the moon, the moon I have not seen for a decade. So much of what I do, of what we used to do, is for reasons that I cannot remember, that I dare say no one can remember. Marks on a wall. The second time in my life I have made marks on a wall. They mean more than days. I do not forget that. There is wood on the island. In the east is a small forest. It is a dark place. Or, darker. The light does not seem to penetrate to the floor, even though the growth is sparse. For some reason the forest has not spread. I have seen no saplings, only mature trees. I allow myself to cut down one every eight weeks. That and the peat I dig out are my sources of fuel. I have fixed on this period of eight weeks for a simple reason. My calculations prove I have at most twenty years left on this island and at last count there were one hundred and thirty-three trees. That is approximately one every eight weeks. I have been following this practice since the seventeenth week of my arrival. [...]
This is an excerpt from the novel: Wall of Days, by Alastair Bruce.
Title: Wall of Days
Author: Alastair Bruce
Publisher: Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2010
ISBN 9781415201374 / ISBN 978-1-4152-0137-4
Softcover, 13 x 22 cm, 240 pages
Bruce, Alastair im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Wall of Days is ambitious and hugely readable post-apocalypse literature.
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