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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Thursbitch (2003) by Alan Garner


Book Review
Thursbitch (2003)
by Alan Garner

  Thursbitch, the 2003 novel by Scottish author Alan Garner is yet another fine example of the randomness that infects the last decade or so of selections for the first edition of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list.  The title refers to a real-life valley Scotland.  The book intertwines the story of a contemporary geologist and his companion, tromping through the Thursbitch of today and finding strange artifacts, which are likely connected to the other narrative stream- about Jack Turner, a "jagger" or driver of pony teams hauling salt out of the moorlands, living in the 18th century.  Turner is the priest of a mysterious pre-Christian Celtic cult, centered around bull worship. 

  Both narrators address the reader mainly through conversation.  There is little of the signaling or "neutral" description of place and emotion that a reader would expect.  The impact is one of disorientation, as if, of course, the 18th century Celtic cult that of which Garner gives us brief glimpses.  Thursbitch was the first title I've come across that was available only as an Ebook.  Even though Thursbitch isn't lengthy, the difficult combination of Scotch 18th century dialogue and overall lack of signaling or explanation by the author made it a particularly poor choice as an Ebook.  Thursbitch is the kind of book you want to read in print or not at all.

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