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The Blind Light by Stuart Evers

This story appeared in the July issue of the The First Edition.

It’s After The End of the World. Don’t you know that yet? – Sun Ra

What has brought this column about is a novel that I consider to be exceptional; the story lines and language an inspiration, taking me to a higher level in these restrictive times; a cultural wasteland that requires patience, thoughtfulness, alternative action. The half hour before sleep is agreeable, a book or a quiet time of reflection. What’s needed though is to travel away from the daily routines of island life, put aside my reticence of being among the careless multitudes, the unknown danger.

So off to Vancouver we go, on the way an overnight in Qualicum Bay, dinner with two expat Hornbyites at the Shady Rest, a last look across the water, wave farewell to Hornby. There’s a suite booked on the 8th floor of the Sylvia Hotel; casual plans in place. Both daughters are flying in from Toronto, an old friend from Halifax and the few familiars still left in the city to be dinner guests. Time after the long journey to relax, read a great novel to help me along. On the way this book to overcome the tedium of ferry travel, the boat filled with noisy talkative travellers excited at being released from confinement.

Reviewing literature, film, dance and music, especially live events after they’ve concluded is at best a personal opinion, often not shared with the general populace. The top ten in all disciplines rarely what I would personally consider important, creative or in most cases barely relevant.

This book has four or five main characters with whom I can align myself in a variety of ways. A factory worker stuck on the Dagenham Ford assembly line, an unreliable arrogant toff sent down from Oxford – the son of a wealthy landowner: these two men, unlikely friends with a tenuous link from their army days; a barmaid with a Welsh father and an elderly writer of some fame who drinks at their pub.








The story could be a common one, beginning in January 1959, the fear, perpetuated by the government and media of impending doom, the threat of the atomic bomb. A long-time friend back in Toronto – a writer and musician – had also recently discovered the writing of Stuart Evers, suggesting that his endless prevaricating sentences make The Blind Light a gorgeous feast of family developments spread across various English class systems: accents and language identified, racism and even, to a certain extent, a detail as mundane as dress-code a depiction of their social class.

The younger participants, the children and grandchildren of the main characters, belong in a different world, none of them born with the fear of atomic warfare, their everyday concerned with other problems; their entertainment more to do with raves, mind-altering drugs and all-night parties, the current false fear of the end-of-the-world obliterated or at the very least masked.

This story, concluding on Sunday, August 18 2019 is from my personal point of view a suitable reality. It could be that you have to be of a certain age to relate to the story, although Stuart Evers who was born in 1977, is now still only in his early forties. Ironic this book written before the fear of COVID and the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, the writer not yet aware that our world may end with drastic climate change, plague or nuclear war in Europe.

End Notes:

The Blind Light [ISBN: 9781529030976 – 544 pages] is likely available at your library; reading it the only way to discover if this is suitable literature for you.

Bill Smith [aka Colston Willmott] can be contacted at classicimprov@yahoo.ca
My weekly radio show, presented between noon and 2:00 every Wednesday on Hornby Island Radio [CHFR – 96.5 FM] can be found at: https://hornbyradio.com/dj/jazz-gems-with-bill-smith/

The First Edition is the Hornby Island monthly magazine, where residents are kept up-to-date with local news and events, plus a number of columns on various subjects. If your interest is piqued, a subscription is available for $36.00 per year North America, $40.00 per year Elsewhere. Cheques or money order to: The First Edition, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada V0R1Z0.