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In the timeless Wild Times, a post-traumatic, nebulous era of stalking horrors, lives a small isolated family in a coastal nowhere. Possibly the only sane member, a puny female with a fearsome growl, describes the legacy which is her daily life: the fatal goo that falls from the sky; the hairy, inter-species rape; the ceaseless screaming that perforates the brain... as well as the peculiar fates that her ancestors have met: poison fumeroles; excessive snail slime accidents; or simply, 'it solidified inside him'. She follows a linear, if wobbly, timeline from childhood to old age as she tries to discover normality and real life in her signpost-less world by building a safe house from a material as fearful as the Wild Times around her: Granite. In the tragicomic 'Wild Times with Granite', the narrative voice clambers emotional troughs and peaks with deadpan brutality and oblique innocence through of aeons anticipating the arrival of building materials and centuries of bloody building work. She finds out about love on the way with her pet snail, a dusty spider and her Uncle Heap (comforter with his big veiny hands, practical sorter-outer of all things Wild and owner of a magical, multi-appendaged pocket knife). She is let down by architect extraordinaire, Ervil Nitzo (a disingenuous, snoring bore with an inky nose) and lives under periodic visitations of the curse of 'doom' uttered by her Mother with some of her last words (after she has passed through her plate smashing phase, before she becomes inert and silent in a chair for years), but is helped by Toobit Lonkins (a flea-bitten bird who acts as postman) and two blood-smeared builders: bellowing Nursten (a man of huge proportions, prone to beating his chest), and graceful Wort (a small stutterer who has suffered some 'puh-pain'). Clare (whose face reveals that she is 'going to die') visits periodically from some unknowably normal place and gives inspiring glimpses into the world of chocolate, astrology, bunting and the guy at the garage which spur on the building work and even lead the puny builder to re-remember her own name. After a good deal of (and possibly as a result of) counter-cursing by the puny growler, Mother dies, thus absorbing her 'doom', but it finally becomes clear that the puny builder has built herself into her 'safe safe house' and has no door, just when she also perceives 'bunting and music' in the distance (a sign that the Wild Times have subsided and her life's work is meaningless). It is not until Uncle Heap dies messily, leaving a hopeful suggestion pinned to his chest that she can move forward and build again... This allegorical novel speaks of those who have felt their puniness in the maelstrom swirl of trauma or post-trauma, who have been stalked by the predatory 'otherness' of their situation and sought to address it. With a poignant sense of persistence, a quietly driven optimism and only the humblest sense of triumph, Wild Times with Granite makes light of lifes deepest difficulties.
A creative type, born to an Eastern European emigre family swimming in the debris of a post-traumatic era, Gail Varga has sailed oceans, climbed mountains, pedalled across countries, lost blood, sweat and tears over notions of progress, failed, loved, dealt bluntly with necessity, been close by when death was visiting, and enjoys bountiful health and life.