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Long winded reviews

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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies - William Golding For some reason I thought I have already read this book, certainly I know the story quite well from the two movie versions that I have seen. I even added it to my Goodreads bookshelf and rated it five stars. I have been looking forward to “rereading” Lord of the Flies for a while only to find that I haven’t actually read it!

“Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood! Do him in!”

The above chant from the book seems like a good tagline for a movie, it has already been filmed twice but I have no idea whether the film producers availed themselves to this slogan. The basic plot is very simple, a bunch of British schoolboys shipwreck on a desert island and most of them degenerate into blood thirsty savages. This hardly requires any suspension of disbelief; kids left to their own devices often transform into little beasts.

Lord of the Flies really resonates with me because of one of the central characters, a boy cruelly nicknamed “Piggy”, an overweight outcast with no charisma and or social skills, whose only talent seems to be the ability to always say the wrong thing at wrong time. In my school days I knew a boy who is the personification of Piggy. An odd, fat and unappealing boy who brought out the worst in people. Most other kids teased him mercilessly, even myself on some occasions; he really was a “center of social derision” as William Golding describes his pitiful character. To this day I can not think of a justification for such unkindness toward the poor fellow. The worst thing is his nickname actually was “Piggy”!

The three main characters Ralph, Jack and Piggy are archetypes of a natural leader, a bully and a nerd. They are not terribly complex people but they are still quite vivid characters who are defined more by their action than their brief moments of introspection. The early chapters have a spirit of adventure, something like [b:The Swiss Family Robinson|62111|The Swiss Family Robinson |Johann David Wyss|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1385171459s/62111.jpg|2441994], or perhaps a child’s idea of utopia, a world without adult supervision. As the characters degenerate into savagery the tone of the book become very dark and disturbing. William Golding’s prose style is deliberately prosaic; there are no lyrical passages to speak of. This has the effect of amplifying the visceral impact of the narrative. There are however, some creepy surreal scenes involving a pig’s head on a stick. The ending of the novel is clearly telegraphed by the trajectory of the preceding chapters but it is still very effective for all that.

Film critic Roger Ebert (RIP) mentioned something about the basic premise of this book having become rather tame by today’s standard, what with kids doing even more savage things to each other without needing to be on a desert island. God help us if he is right. Kids today are scary!

OK, I’m done with the conch, your turn.