19 thoughts on “Survivor Song – Paul Tremblay

  1. Book’s PRELUDE as well as my own…

    “The truth will go unheeded by some, as it invariably does.”

    The collaboration there of ‘some’ and ‘invariably’ perhaps makes this not a song either, but a co-vivid dream. I won’t tell you the plot (you will already know it by the time you read this review) and there are always resemblances between dream and reality, but today even more so.

    “This isnt rabies. This is something knew.”

    That’s a Facebook comment complete with autocorrect or meaningful typo. A synchronicity that only covidual collucid dreams can support. I anticipate this book – by such Jungian instinct – to be set upon completing the New Noumenon as a variation upon the trite ‘new normal’, a holiday holism or gestalt I did not know I was seeking (till now) as a break of refreshment. A Voyager (exploring where nothing has explored before) as real-time diary, a track and trace app I didn’t know I already had built into a big head brain. To kill the Dog that is God!

    And Its or His “coughing bark.”

  2. I
    RAMS

    “Natalie insisted that civilization was as fragile as a house of cards; remove one and it all will come tumbling down.”

    Short for Ramola from South Shields in the country where I live, but she is in America, a paediatrician in Close Encounters with aspects of the saliva-led plague…now connected with the Prelude and the pregnant Natalie. Ramola due (ominously for us) to grapple with the ‘second wave of emergency’, and with PPE concerns and other problems resonant with our predicament today. I have an instinct this book was incredibly written BEFORE Covid. And it has Covideo text conferences et al, like Zoom?

    Characters and events built up well as George Eliot would have done, (and I mean that as a compliment!), she who wrote ROMOLA…
    Florence, in this novel, has endured political upheaval, warfare and famine. Religious fervour has swept through the city under the leadership of Savonarola, culminating in the Bonfire of the Vanities. And the heroine is seen helping people at the end affected by the Plague…

  3. NATS

    “Shit, I’d be so bad at time travel.”

    A relatively brief chapter representing some incredible piece of naturally evolving literature where a mother talks to the baby in her belly as if the baby’s alive in a future they may not share together. Ironically about the dire events in her immediate past of which we have already been made aware. A baby who is still part and parcel of her body that is so vulnerable to the present day that will virally shape, not only her body and mind, but also the whole future, a future into the unknown emptiness of which she speaks aloud.
    Speaking without response from the one who has yet to hear her say it. A bit like an 19th century writer to a 21st reader?
    I hope, meanwhile, that I survive to finish this book in real-time.

  4. RAMS


    “…the toe that does the least amount of work (the one next to the baby toe, of course),…”

    Blended with the mutually supportive backstories of Nats and Rams when students, we soon realise the parallels of their future with our present…
    “Because of what they’re reading online we were inundated with people who believe the virus is airborne, who believe this is some kind of Hollywood zombie apocalypse, thinking their headaches and colds are proof of infection,”
    and this book in itself is a page-driven exciter, with growing depth of character, and a belief in what perhaps should not be believed other than in fiction. Actually, it makes their backstories evolve into our present and then into wild forward ones of evacuation and violence, beyond the stage where we ourselves have yet reached in our own version of reality amid reason and science … but towards a wild belief on the brink of transcending, by panic, the woman of “reason and science” who was part of the many in-jokes from their student backstories …

    Reason and science, as a theme of endeavour in many novels before our own times, too? Even when extrapolated from centuries ago.

  5. II

    NATS

    “Not for nothing, I hope you make good decisions in your life. It’s okay to make bad ones too, of course. No one makes all good decisions,…”

    A perfect match with my happening to read, earlier today, Patrick Kavanagh’s old poem TO HELL WITH COMMONSENSE (whereby I quickly wrote to myself: ‘I chose it because Boris has been basing his whole Covid approach on tapping what he refers to as the British common sense, so that he can blame it when things go wrong. But this is his own version of common sense, using such a negative populism. Meanwhile, What I call Brainstorming however is a different kettle of fish. The best things you did through life are the silly things because you wanted to do them, some had good results, some didn’t, but the good outweighed the bad because you could at least fly through that hole in what K called ‘reason’s ceiling’, you could fly through commonsense’s ceiling towards the ultimate light….’)

    The only way to underpin survivorship without a brand of survivor guilt?
    That REASON’s ceiling, seems highly appropriate in this context. Science and reason.
    A chapter where Nats talks to her future child again, and mentions another word, which I might have avoided because, well, it’s against reason. Seems to cheapen Horror. But here ‘that word’ seems to begin to make sense. And, indeed, is our own pandemic today going similarly to reach the end of the alphabet…?!

    “These recordings are the break-in-the-event-of-emergency glass, just in case I become a” [that word]

    “I don’t believe in ghosts but I’m afraid of them, or the implications of them. Maybe I’m more afraid of being wrong about ghosts.” Ghosts is [a different word]

  6. RAMS

    “Natalie prattles on about Coyote Cujo and how it should check its ambitions, downsize to leaping at compact cars or motorcycles, leave attacking ambulances to rabid rhinos or rabid circus elephants.”

    Feisty unofficial ambulance journey towards where Nats lives. We realise the human and animal mayhem around the two women’s conversations, horror-sinewy narrative fiction making what it approximates a truth or “a dissociative feeling of going backward—not quite déjà vu, but a sense of rewinding, of going nowhere…”, nowhere but here.

  7. NATS

    “Oh don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s me.”

    That expression takes on quite a new meaning when talking to one’s yet unborn pregnancy, each time leaving a gradual onward message for that child to absorb at future accreting ages of itself. Makes me think of the art of novel writing for future readers of different ages, FROM as well as TO the gut. A retrocausal instinct…

    “And so even if time travel back to the nineteenth century were possible, I would not ask my impertinent hypothetical question to George Eliot—“
    —- from The New Yorker 2014
    “George Eliot and the Secret of Motherhood”: How did Eliot, who is often described as childless, know so well, and so exactly, what becoming a mother was like?

  8. RAMS

    “How can anyone be sure given unprecedented, impossible circumstances?”

    “Ramola says, ‘Everything isn’t ending. Civilization is more resilient than people think.’”

    “Ramola is not religious or spiritual and rightly scoffs at the notion of things happening for a reason. Her faith is placed within the fragile hands of humanity’s capacity for kindness and service.”

    Romola, too.

    “Romola had had contact with no mind that could stir the larger possibilities of her nature; they lay folded and crushed like embryonic wings, making no element in her consciousness beyond an occasional vague uneasiness.”
    ― George Eliot, Romola

    “It is but once that we can know our worst sorrows.”
    ― George Eliot, Romola

    “We prepare ourselves for sudden deeds by the reiterated choice of good or evil which gradually determines character.”
    ― George Eliot, Romola

    The names Nats and Rams seem to echo their vulnerabilities against ALIEN as the [that word] Apocalypse, and the ability for the pregnancy to be adopted, should the Survivor Song not be adapted. Bursting out the belly, instead..

    • “You have parts of me. Auntie Rams has parts of me with her. […] Am I a different me with each passing second?”

      The implications of the delayed listening to this message by an as yet unborn child…. tantalisingly so relevant to our conditions today; the truth of fiction is far more meaningful than the fiction of truth…?

  9. RAMS

    From the action plot-driven matter in this text that potentially entertains a reader who appreciates it, also peppered by people prattling about vaccine conspiracy theories, but ‘this is not a movie’ as someone says from within this very text, and we reach…

    INTERLUDE
    “You Will Not Feel Me Between Your Teeth”

    “; a myopic, sluggish federal bureaucracy further hamstrung by a president unwilling and woefully unequipped to make the rational, science-based decisions necessary;’

    As I read this, I have had a sterilised pad between my teeth so as to staunch the blood flow after a tooth extraction. Honestly.

    Some adept descriptions of events here actually made me forget that pad.

  10. It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.
    ― George Eliot

    You love the roses – so do I. I wish
    The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
    From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
    Then all the valley would be pink and white
    And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
    As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
    Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!
    — George Eliot

    (my italics)

    III
    DO YOU BECOME A ROSE TREE, AND I THE ROSE UPON IT

    RAMS

    “…a coughing fit; a dry, throaty blast of three barks lasting four cycles. When she finishes, the bus goes quiet and still.”

    The last Eliot line above – the perfect evocation of today’s co-vivid dreaming we all undergo?

  11. RAMS

    “The split images are representatives of the past and present, and together, the horrible future.”

    A dream of a fairy tale, beyond Grimm, beyond even co-vivid.
    The plot is here crucial and compelling, the song that makes this book what it is, the balance of rose and rose-tree. Whatever the Mother Earth’s necessary grafting or excision? Which to survive at least for a nonce, the answer is clear perhaps if the tree is ever-blighted? The voyage or the voyager? Motes hanging ever in our air like the book’s image of an avatar shown at the outset of this review, the other the ship of that very thing called our earth?

    A blank story (of which I published the world’s first example?) has even more meaning today, I guess.

    • From Internet:
      “The public figures who established a claim to expertise in dealing with the ‘dog problem’ and the control of ‘street curs’ ranged from Victor Horsley (another Brown Institution notable) to leading London policemen and literary publicists such as G. H. Lewes, husband of George Eliot. For the prolonged discourse on the problem of rabid dogs, which claimed a growing number of deaths in the early 1860s and again in the mid-1880s, owed less to scientific consensus than to a ferment of competing theories on the nature and origins of disease.”

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