Traumatic realism

I write about abuse and trauma, madness, oppression, and the collapse of civilisation

I write about abuse and trauma

The Girl in In the Night the Men Come is gang-raped in prison by soldiers. She is a teenager. She flees her own country. She is abandoned at the airport by her courier when she arrives in another country.

Trauma in The City that Walked Away is a little more subtle. The Wooden God is a survivor. He has two young friends. Neither of them get out of there alive.

Survivor is very directly about abuse and trauma.

I write about madness

When we first meet The Girl in In the Night the Men Come she is psychotic. She often dissociates. It’s not clear that her friend The Prophet is completely sane.

The Last King and the Arch Priestess in The City that Walked Away are both completely delusional.

Survivor describes both psychotic and post-traumatic experiences.

I write about oppression

In her own country The Girl is terrorised by gangs of armed men. In her new country she is pushed to the margin of survival by an indifferent bureaucracy.

In The City that Walked Away there is a hierarchy. The Elder Brothers dominate. The Free Citizens work. The Little People are not much better than slaves. The First Citizen reproduces the same oppression.

I write about the collapse of society

Societies have collapsed before. The Kingdom of the Hittites, which is roughly the model for the Old City in The City that Walked Away, simply disappeared. No-one knows why.

In the past civilisation would be rebuilt after collapse. It would be rebuilt in another society.

Now there is no other society. There is only a global society. We have taken the firewalls out.

The Old City in The City that Walked Away is abandoned. The world of In the Night the Men Come is swept away by floods and fire and earthquakes.

I write about writing

I work on case studies of individual novels.

I am concerned about the difficulties of dealing with fiction in bulk. I opt to work on individual novels that exemplify what seem to me to be significant traits.

I am very interested in the relationship between the forms of popular writing and what – if the term had not been so grossly devalued – one might want to call art.

I have no confidence in academic literary studies. I believe it amounts to little more than a system of loosely organised snobbery.

Photo credit: Crysco Photography on / CC BY-NC-ND