DUSKING THROUGH WAVES
Dusking Through Waves is an eclectic mix of short stories written over several years. From the mountains and parks of Wales to the scrub lands of Africa; from Dylan Thomas' Wales to Lawrence Durrell's Corfu, Some have been placed in competitions and published in reputable literary journals, others have been adapted into stage plays and performed by a professional theatre company. The stories deal with subjects such as domestic violence, loneliness, dementia, war and famine, and love.
Wendy Holborow brings a poet’s sense of language and a craftsperson’s skill with prose to these vivid and various tales. They range in subject matter from the surging drama of a Greek tsunami through the brutal awfulness of domestic violence to the redemptive power of love and familial reparation. Their small worlds make ours somehow bigger.
Herein lie stories which are often touching, sometimes disquietening but always really satisfying as they chart real geographies – visiting Africa, Corfu and Wales – and also imaginary places where people are first haunted then relieved of all their worldly possessions.
Dusking Through Waves is a fine, engaging and intuitive short story collection from a writer who thoroughly delights in language and knows how to make it properly sing. So, immerse yourself in the entrancing music, prepare to get caught in the fine-meshed nets of its well adjudged, nuanced and beautifully filigreed prose.
SAMPLE STORY BEGINNINGS
MOVING THROUGH MOUNTAINS
You cannot live in the present, at least not in Wales. R.S. Thomas
Centuries have passed in the same way on the bald mountains of Wales. Harsh winters give way to spring and lambing, spring drifts lazily into summer and haymaking, summer melts into autumn when preparations for another winter are made, and, like celestial repetitions, the seasons keep moving through the mountains.
If you look through the dribbling rain on the window pane of the village school you will see fourteen-year-old Huw Morgan, sitting near the back of an austere classroom, long legs stretched out before him, boredom etched on his weather-browned face. The crackle of the open fire is feeble against the damp December day, and it is just the schoolmaster, Mr Prythero, who derives any heat from the stubby fingers of fire, having situated his high desk as close as possible to its warmth. He glares over the rim of his spectacles at the younger children sitting solemnly at the front of the classroom, lifting his attention to the older pupils in the middle and back rows, their fingers cold and stiff as unoiled hinges. The younger ones are lucky in one respect, closer to the heat, yet unlucky as Mr Prythero’s beady eyes glint at them as his head swivels owl-like. The knowledge that this is the last day of school and the prospect of freedom brings a fleeting smile to Huw’s face. Not just any ordinary end of term, but release from the constraints of this classroom forever, because today, Huw Morgan will be leaving school.
Ngozi arranges her children beneath the acacia tree near their village. Four upturned faces brimming with trust. How their faith in her pierces her heart. She averts her face, distracting herself to contemplate the slant of leaves in the red-stained sky of dawn, evaluating the most suitable position for the children later on when the sun will blister and scorch. Baby Mchumba cries, and crawling forward, attaches herself to Ngozi’s legs. Ngozi swings her baby onto her hip.
‘I know, baby,’ she murmurs. ‘We’re all hungry.’
Not wanting to be left out, two-year-old Leena stumbles towards her mother and clutches her hand. Ngozi hoists Leena onto her other hip, struggling to hold the two babies in her weakened state. She slides Leena to the ground, calling Achieng.
‘Hold your sister, come and sit where I showed you.’ She pulls the two girls back to their place under the tree and crouches down to whisper to Achieng. ‘See over there? On the line where the ground and sky meet?’ Achieng nods. ‘See the trees? That is as far as I will go. Look after Leena. You’re a big girl now, she listens to you.’ Achieng is crying. How can she bear her mother leaving? How can she comfort her little sister who is already sobbing for her mother? Ngozi picks up the water carrier and winds a wrapper around herself to swaddle Mchumba for the journey.
They are watching you, Theodore Wainwright the 3rd.. They can see the love and anticipation in your eyes and in your demeanour, as you turn your smart new car, Jaguar-black and sleek, into the driveway through the security gates of your mansion; what need will you have for one in Heaven? The car purrs and crunches to a stop outside the garage door as you bleep it open with a remote control. You steer it in, and They follow your movements as you caress the steering wheel before vacating and locking the car doors, turning a last time to admire its beauty.
They observe you as you unlock your magnificent front door, heavy carved oak and black ironwork. But no welcoming arms rush to greet you, no children whoop towards you as your key turns in the lock, not even a dog yaps in delirium at your homecoming. Be careful, Theodore Wainwright the 3rd.. Loneliness can curl in the heart like a worm in an apple, sucking out hope and leaving it hollow. There was a woman, once, long ago, possessed by you, but children, never. They cannot be wholly possessed.
Review in nation.cymru by Nigel Jarrett
In Wendy Holborow’s new collection of stories, home is where the heart is vulnerable. Violence, events in the wider world, family schism, and infidelity shift its centre and sometimes threaten its very existence. Now and then, it is a thing coming into being or on the point of revival; it’s elusive or taken for granted. But everywhere in Holborow’s sharply delineated domestic scenes, it’s a desideratum.
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