²⁵ Found in a second hand bookshop
This is his latest book. We can finally say again: it might be the last one. His recent writings have conveyed a sense of impending doom, he is ailing, and summer fires have ransacked his country of residence. It all adds up: the book opens with a description of bushfires that ravage an already barren hill. Unnamed villagers have assembled and polyphonically recall greener times. The scene cuts to a painting factory where celadon green is being produced. Eventually, the two landscapes mingle and when a voice enquires at the end of the paragraph about the future of colour, it is up to the reader to decide in which scene to set it.
It is difficult to describe his style, without being ensnared by it, without falling into bad imitation or parody. His words struggle with obscurity, with a meaning that bubbles to the surface — a breathe — before plunging back towards uncomely depths. Endless airport corridors, a lift stuck between museum floors, the stage of a theatre trapping heaps of costumes forever : culture slipping just out of reach.
He had refused the Government Prize shortly before our last meeting. We met in a vacated theatre, neo-baroque glitter dangling dangerously from the ceiling above. At the end of the interview, he walked up to the stage and started reciting verse. It sounded generically, unintelligibly ancient. Axes in museums, heavy-faced extras in Sunday specials. He waved his arms around, bowed low, and headed for the exit. Pictish he murmured. I shrugged. It’s extinct, you know. I must have known it at one point — could have been Pictish or anything else, his clear-cut face glowing in the dark. He carefully closed the door behind us.
Firefighters, blazing red, had already assembled in the yard and were rehearsing evacuation procedures with the theatre employees. He amusedly pointed towards the drizzling sky.