The Wild

Ven ven at
Wed Jun 20 21:54:13 EDT 2001

Sometime in October I wrote about a reading by Esther Freud from 
"the Wild", just out in paperback. It's excellent, and on topic to 
boot. It's basically about two years in the life of nine year old Tess, 
trying to fit in with a new home and family, learning about the Norse 
myths, one by one, at school. Tess's brother Jake hates their 
mother's new landlord and soon to be  boyfriend on sight, Tess 
wants him to love her as much as he loves his own three 
daughters. It's the mid seventies and people are trying out new 
ways of communal living and eating and education. In their house 
everything is done differently, to the great irritation of their suburban 
neighbours, but the same old patriachy prevails Tess's idol, 
William, is a domestic tyrant as well as a phony. The school, 
obviously a Steiner school,with its pastel colours and absence of 
corners, is shown with affectionate detachment, and Tess's 
teacher, Mr Paul, is clearly the kind of teacher William only thinks 
he is. It is Mr Paul who is teaching the Norse myths. 

The on topic bit: Tess's reading of the Norse myths centres on 
Loki. She feels for him, an outsider in his family. He makes sarky 
comments at dinner, like her brother Jake, he does destructive 
things, Jake writes rude words on phone boxes, he is silenced and 
punished ......................... in that he is like both of the children. 
Throughout the book Tess becomes increasingly worried about 
Ragnarok and she is right. This is all very reminiscent of the way 
Luke/Loki is treated and behaves in Eight Days of Luke. Jake also 
reminds me very much of Chris in Black Maria, he just can't stop 
the wildness breaking out in him.


"Any reader has the right to say of any text: "But I didn't think it was that good."

Samuel R Delany
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