3.20.2008

Reading Life 27


Clay by David Almond


Like I thought would happen as soon as I finished this one of Almond's books: I loved it. I know some wouldn't necessarily care for the ending, very open-ended, readers left with more questions than answers, but like I've tried explaining to some readers about this sort of closing: it's not a closing at all: this portion of a person's story does come to a conclusion, but as happens in real life, when one problem is solved, we've still got several more to deal with, and we can count on a few new ones tomorrow, the next day, etc. Life's never about all loose-ends tied neatly by such and such a date. Some problems, right, we never solve. And so happens to Davie in Almond's story: he ends up the wiser, but at a loss.


A quick summary: Davie meets up with Stephen, a kid who's got powers over ordinary folks, who hypnotizes Davie with very venomous but logical-sounding arguments about God's having abandoned His creation because we're a bunch of numbskulls and live lives counter to what He'd hoped and so He simply turns His back, waiting for us to destroy ourselves absolutely. In Felling, where Davie's from, the two create a monster of their own, who's got characteristics of both boys: naive and innocent (from Davie) and evil and sinister (from Stephen). As the boys are opposite in every way, the monster, named Clay, is a conflicted creature. Though speaking of God and mammon, this verse in the Bible certainly applies in this story: one cannot serve two masters. The story comes to a head when Davie wants to bring the monster's life to a humane death, while Stephen would rather train him to kill, destroy.


It's a spooky story. Much of the violence is implied, though there are plenty of fights. Beautifully written, and deep.

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