3 thoughts on “at the setting of the sun


    “Because that was what it amounted to; the girl disturbed me.”

    This story, in like manner, disturbs me. It is not what it seems, the Gestalt to which it ‘amounts’, that is. Never the same amount, even by the end. At first a disarming, well-written account of a childless couple, their marital problems over this inability, the investigations, the miscarriages leading to ‘due dates’ rather than ‘birthdays’, and maternal names given as tokens taken of any sign of their existence, like the eventual foster children they took, keeping tokens of them, too. Fostering children, done as if ‘foster’ is more than just what that word normally amounts to… until they foster Mal, a girl seeming more mature than her given age, as the husband notices, but does he tell us everything? And my interpretive summary doesn’t indeed tell half of it nor what ghosts Mal engenders. Or were the ghosts always there? Or just their names? And then I return to the title with which it began…


    “I had no idea really what age he was, but he was young.”

    A very strong ghost story that affected me more than I expected. Indeed, it borders on becoming a classic in my mind. Still working at it. Partly because the possible sexual implications involved with indeterminate ages of two youths in this book: Mal in the previous story and the possible ‘unreliable narration’ of the husband, and here Thura (Burmese youth) in interaction with Lummis (an Asian studies academic teacher) as another possible unreliable source for Brace (his academic colleague as the story’s narrator proper), a source difficult to depend upon. It also has an engaging MR-Jamesian scenario of two contra-characterised academic gents having pub lunches and exploring churches, plus an idyllic setting where a country cottage sits back ‘politely’ from the road. Meanwhile, certain aspects are deeply disturbing to the level of Aickman-like conceits, I would say, including luggage mingling in a car boot and bones fusing leading eventually to a mock-up arguably of a sexual act between a man and a ghost at the end, and particularly compelling when seen in the light of Lummis’ stated backstory.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s