First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Children, only animals live entirely in the Here and Now. Only nature knows neither memory nor history. But man – let me offer you a definition – is the story-telling animal.
Tom Crick is a passionate teacher, but before he is forced into retirement by scandal, he has one last history lesson to deliver: his own. Spanning more than two hundred years in the lives of its haunted narrator and his ancestors, Waterland is a visionary tale of England’s mysterious Fen country. Taking in eels and incest, ale-making and madness, the discovery of a body and a tragic family romance, this is an extraordinary novel about the heartless sweep of history and man’s changing place within it.
In the years since its first publication in 1983, Waterland has established itself as a much-loved classic of twentieth-century British literature. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, won the Guardian Fiction Prize and has been adapted into a film starring Jeremy Irons and Ethan Hawke.
Happy Friday everyone! Another working week is in the bag. I hope you all had a great work week. When we talk about Friday, we also talk about the weekends. Now that we’re headed for the weekends, everybody do please take care whilst having fun.
Aside from being the gateway to the weekends, Friday also means another First Impression Friday update. I am currently in the midst of another Man Booker Prize reading binge. In the past three weeks, I have I have exclusively been picking books from the shortlists and the winners of the prestigious literary prize. My current read is Graham Swift’s Waterland. Waterland was shortlisted for the 1983 Man Booker Prize and was one of the books I purchased during the 2018 Big Bad Wolf Manila Book Fair, the first year Manila hosted the annual book fair. Unfortunately, it was left to gather dust in my bookshelf until this year.
Waterland is the story of Tom Crick. He is the history department head. However, after over thirty years of working as a history teacher, his schoolmaster asked him to voluntarily retire. As he contemplates on this proposition placed before him, he has one last history lesson to impart – the history of the locality he grew up in, England’s Fen county. Inevitably intertwined with the story of Fen county is the Crick family’s story. Thus begins a long and winding narrative that navigates every curve of the fictional River Leem.
As discussed in the introduction written by John Burnside, the novel uncharacteristically brings to the forefront the atmosphere of the setting. The enigmatic Fen country, rather than being utilized as the background was transformed into an important character in the story of the Atkinson and the Crick families. Through their respective family histories, the novel grapples with dark and heavy themes of abuse, murder, and incest. However, the novel’s most seminal themes revolve around nature, and history.
Rather than a straightforward story, the structure is nonchronological, embracing the curves of the River Leem. The story was related through the perspective of Tom Crick, who was made to sound as though he was intimating the story to his students or at least a private audience. I do find the structure a bit challenging as it weaves from one time period to another. This somehow impaired my appreciation of the narrative. With about two-thirds done, I hope the story picks up as I embark on finishing the novel over the weekend.
How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!