Saturday, 21 July 2018

'Many Shades of Red'

Another story from Peter Bell's new Sarob collection that I heard him read aloud. Once more, rich description of an interesting place is front and centre. The ghost story element is woven into the history and landscape, the stories people tell, the traditions that still live in hearts and minds.

This time we're in Iceland. A tourist asks which of the mountains is volcanic, and is told they all are. Bell's scholarly narrator is on holiday, and pops into a Catholic chapel during a walk. He finds the chapel almost deserted. Then he finds a 'Culture House', a kind of museum and gallery. Here he becomes fascinated by a painting of a young girl in a hospital bed, with a doctor standing over her. The curator tells him the story behind the picture, which is a strange one indeed.

This story reminded me slightly of 'Ulrike' by Borges - a story set in York, where Peter Bell lives. Borges remarks that people in colder, darker climes tend to favour brighter clothes. The many shades of red of the title refer to clothes, but also the reds of sunset in the grey-black volcanic landscape. And, of course, blood.

So, another winner from Revenants & Maledictions. Where will we be tomorrow? Tune in and find out!

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