11 thoughts on “The Migration – Helen Marshall

  1. —> Page 36

    I have no doubt this will be an engaging read, one that I suspect, judging by my previous knowledge of this author’s work, will cause quite a stir. And indeed I have so far reached page 36, and I can safely say that I am thus duly engaged. I do not intend to spend time reciting the plot for you. Suffice to reproduce below my photo of part of the back cover that you would see in bookshops should you pick it up to decide whether or not to buy it.


    In the meantime, as I read this book, I intend further to touch on aspects of the book that particularly appeal to me or enlighten me from its own intrinsic attractions as a significant work of fiction. Or to touch on where I can perhaps, at least obliquely or personally, enlighten the book itself, as a return favour, in synergy with any constructive elements of the literary theory of intentional fallacy! As just one example, so far, I was inspired by the connection between memories and murmurs.

  2. —> Page 71

    “A macabre lasagna — that’s how a monk from Florence described it. I couldn’t conceive of a disaster that large.”

    Historical and Gestalt precedents are fiction-craftily factored into what happens to the world of Sophie and Kira, and the ‘jitterbug’ in the latter’s body. And what now happens to them, the family backstory, the Aunt, and other conflicts perhaps over-deliberately built up. The Yellow Wallpaper syndrome, too. “So, disease is the price we pay for being too close to one another.” Disease as a process, as novel-writing is a process? Huge collages and coins dipped in vinegar. I, too, personally have the less deliberate, instinctive ‘music’ of past books I have, by chance, real-time reviewed, reviews now obliquely to backdrop this book: murmurs, memories and migrations of works by Sarah Perry (three books), Victoria Leslie, Sarah Pinborough, Frances Hardinge…and more that may come to mind later.


  3. —> Page 88

    “                                                                        and what I want to
    know is
    how do you like your blueeyed boy
    Mister Death”
    (Quoted in text as “an E.E. Cummings poem”, but life christened him e.e. cummings, only mister death being upper case?)

    Feef. “Bland grief food.” “, Fee-fi-fo-fum,” “FeeFeesFeed”, people dead are “a witness to everything”, like Sarah Perry’s Melmoth? Or Nina Allan’s Rift?
    We learn about ashes needed for a family’s catharsis, religions like Christ’s, and tablets, forums with their avatar names, and this book’s own “corrosivetransfer” (Migration? Rift?) yet to be spotted?
    These memories, murmurs and migrations I have dwelt on above are not necessary to appreciate the compelling readability of this story and its sensitive language. As we all follow Feef / Soff / Sophie in her own memories, murmurs and migrations…

    “Sometimes memory is a noose. It loops back on itself, pulling tight round your throat.”

  4. 00088316-4F2A-48A6-84AA-92FD6C4C4C2F—> Page 147

    “We tiptoe round the grave”, aka an elephant being in the room? This narrative is suspenseful, cinematic, sometimes dotted with a song lyric or two, at least in my reading mind. But do I dare murmur the Z word? How when I drive this book, the line down the middle of the road becomes “a thick blur.” “A partial salute.” Oxford as a genius loci. Potato peeling. “The only way through grief is through it.” A sororal synergy with things becoming a smoke of birds like weather? Everyone you know closely has their characteristic set of sounds and smells.

    “The monitors spill my secrets to the world:”

  5. —> Page 183

    “When writers imagine apocalyptic futures they’re trying to illuminate what’s already embedded in their own society beneath the surface.”

    …or at least that is what one of this book’s characters says. But indeed we do receive backdrops here — amid the characters and events of a page-turning story that brings a perceived dystopian future into present day earth-cyclic and human-manipulated climate change — the backdrops of religious art, past plagues as well as this book’s ‘jitters’ and England as imagined as having broken off from the rest of the world, as I think someone else thinks somewhere in this book — backdrops we perceive through Sophie’s eyes, as influenced by her Aunt, and others, and by a young man, as considerations of the Z in Lazarus evolving into a loved one’s body, while morphing outwardly in a physically ugly way, but equally in potential beauty of that morphed body and what it becomes within itself as a living consciousness (recognisable as someone the body used to be or not), I wonder? Could cremation have killed Peter Pan, I also wonder? “And a rocket ship, too.”— thoughts of flying elsewhere? Perhaps I am extrapolating too far beyond where I have reached in the book?

  6. —> Page 230

    “In the dream though, it happened differently.”

    Memories or dream murmurs of past Fundy holidays. Amid the youth culture of such cities as Oxford today, posh boys and/or short-skirted wayward night clubbers, and I sense something or some things more cataclysmic from the sky, “Warm winds blowing from the south, corrupted by the conjunction of Mars and Jupiter.” A form of a Warwick Castle falcon, or one of Nina Allan’s dragons, or one of Waterhouse’s nymphs morphed, more like? Relics, reliquaries of the past made manifest as today’s child-like, if not childish, visions of eschatology? Where do kittens go? Science and life … as well as recoupable death itself, all part of the rich pattern. A rich pattern here with relatively simple words and syntax, yet sensitive words sensitively put, and page-turning events. Toynbeean challenge and response… “One thing changes and another responds, again and again and again.”

  7. —> end

    “It’s not flying, not exactly. More like a crazy game of leapfrog.”

    A transformational read of the many last pages in two sittings, split by my night between. But leapfrog means touching other things to help one’s flight, as we do with this book. A way, without spoilers, to publicly appreciate a book that is often stunning and moving and no doubt popular as a SF revelatory rhapsody of beautifully sensitive, often cinematic, words … extrapolated from psychological, bodily, arguably inferred, transgender-concepts now become transhuman. A part of “The Age of Rage.” Now beyond the polarity of our often false crazy unicorns, beyond into these real fiction-as-truth ones. Borders are closed by the prime minister, at least temporarily, as this book says. As ‘the late March heat engulfs England’. A late March a few days away in the future as I write this. Transidentity, transdeath, transapocalypse. All thoughts of mine now being weighed in my post-book mind, some of which may be unsubstantiated by what has been read in it, but paradoxically somehow substantiated nonetheless. A Waterhouse not a mere shed.

    “But the flip side of immersing yourself in history is false nostalgia, thinking things were better before when they weren’t.”


    “I had never been one for dwelling on the past, but was still aware of the origins of nostalgia as a form of homesickness. In my case, all I felt was the sickness. That, and the strange sensation that someone was trying to communicate with me…”
    — words I read yesterday in ‘The Injuries of Time’, another book by chance concurrently being real-time reviewed here.

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