Friday, 30 March 2018

'As Blank As the Days Yet to Be'

“The Uncertainty of All Earthly Things” by Mark Valentine (numbered edition)The penultimate story Mark Valentines The Uncertainty of All Earthly Things is a tale of the cockatrice. No, missus, really. From it I learned that a cockatrice is a hybrid cock-snake (I'm not making this up) and has gorgonesque powers to turn other living things to stone. I wasn't aware of cockatrice legends from around England, one of which involved someone lowering a mirror into its lair so it zapped itself. We are an ingenious people...

In the story the narrator sets out in search of more folklore and finds it in a small village, along with something else - the remains of an ancient turf maze. These are fascinating, not least because nobody could get lost in them.

Well, not in a conventional sense I gleaned the possibility that the young man the author meets, Anthony, is not just a helpful local but something more, and that the two walking the maze has great significance. Unfortunately I found the story baffling so I can't be sure how successful it might seem to someone who understood it.

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