By John Kinsella
Pub Date: 11/14/23
Once a fêted literary figure, the former lover of B-list movie star Lucida, but now derelict, incontinent, asexual, ageing poet Harold Lime turns his back on material modernity, withdrawing to a basement in the university town of Cambridge, England. But human connections will prove difficult to sever completely, and he is drawn out of himself by a fox hunt saboteur (“the sab woman”), with whom he forms a poignant, uneasy relationship and who acts as his mutual confessor. In the isolation of his basement, Harold Lime obsessively listens to Mahler, whose nine symphonies, unfinished tenth, and Earth Songs, each corresponding to a separate chapter of this innovative poetic novel, will reawaken the sensitivities he has tried to erase, taking him back to his Australian childhood and youth, fostering a growing awareness of intertwined body and soul, of commitment and connectedness, of the ecology of rootedness and unrootedness in an unjust world.
John Kinsella is the author of many prize-winning volumes of poetry, including Peripheral Light: Selected Poems, Jam Tree Gully, and Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems. He has written numerous works of fiction and criticism, and taught poetry and literature in the USA, UK, and Australia. He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University. Dalkey Archive Press published his novel Lucida Intervalla in 2019.
A bulldozer driven for entertainment is an affront to nature in its implication, and likely consequences. A bulldozer driven to alleviate mental and emotional stress, is a loose cannon. A bulldozer fuelled and ready to lurch into action is a disaster waiting to happen. In all of this, is the idiom of nation, the pedalling of a frontier battered into submission. It is the wren’s nest tumbled under the blade, the echidna dismembered, its quills signing off on the travesty of ‘development’. If you listen, even from a fair distance, you will hear the rumbling of the CAT engine, carried on the wind—above it, sits a composer of destruction, smug with work ethic but thoroughly enjoying his mission.