Lost and found

I started getting lost in 2004 when we moved to York – it has a circular layout (‘ancient, yet utopian’) with the Minster at its centre. We lived (I finally worked out) in the north east segment of the circle, just beyond the gasometer at Layerthorpe – which was fine as long as the gasometer was visible. I discovered gasometers go down as well as up. Handy to know if you’re lost in the city centre and want to find your way home. By the time I’d figured out my way round York, we moved.

Leeds was easy. Lived ON the A65 (handy link Wikipedia, thank you) overlooking the Aire valley: turn left for city centre or right to walk to Ilkley (unlikely). Didn’t get lost but did end up in Leeds General Infirmary. Decided there were less dangerous places to live.

Moved west again. The Lancashire coast. Kitchen faced south (towards Southport). Coast across the marshes (unseen) to the west of kitchen window. Winds – prevailing westerlies travelled right to left across kitchen window. Note: I spent a lot of time in the kitchen – I didn’t get lost but I didn’t go out much either.

Five years later. Moved south. A bit harsh for a northerner, so only moved a little bit south. South west of the Midlands – which means that over the past 30 years I’ve moved round in a great fecking circle and I too am now ‘ancient, yet utopian’ and still mentally re-establishing myself in this new location.

I live on a bend in the river (which makes it look as if it flows north – which it does – before it turns again and flows south towards the sea). There’s a weather vane on the town clock, so I know which way the wind’s blowing AND the exact time (the clock chimes every fifteen minutes). I decide this town is just small – or big – enough. It has a river running through it, a castle in the middle, the mountains behind. I think I know where I am now.

On abandoning Blood Meridian

Have abandoned Blood Meridian on p285 of 353 – a pretty hefty investment of time in any book. So why have I stopped with only 60 pages to go? It is relentlessly bleak*. No, not like The Road. In The Road we get to travel with the kid and his dad, and yes it’s all a bit bleak and post-apocalyptic but, but … nothing really bad ever happens. Blood Meridian? Rewind 150 years, flip to the other side of The Road, and follow another kid and a bunch of mercenaries on a ‘nightmare odyssey’ along the US/Mexico border.

I chose this book to take me out of my comfort zone. Vague memories of Westerns on the telly. US election coming up. ‘Brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel’. OK. And yes, it’s a brilliant book – poetic and savage at the same time.

In the meantime I wonder if there’s a film. I discover … not yet, though someone has bought the rights. I am not surprised, how to do the book justice? Dan Ozzi at Word and Film ventures a cast list.

Maybe I just need a bit of down time before I finish it. Sure McCarthy had to stick his head in a bucket of ice for a month or two when he finished writing it.

This morning I give in and check out Jim Crace’s digested read of Blood Meridian at The Guardian. Spot on Jim. Back to my to-read pile. Open Ragnarok. The Norse gods may fuck around with stuff but usually for good reason.

* In retrospect not ‘bleak’. BRUTAL.