I’m Aine Cabaye, author of ‘MR. 0‘ which was published earlier this year by White House Press. I happen to share this publisher with the owner of this blog, AJ Kirby (whose books with WHP you should really check out if you haven’t already: Hangingstone, and When Elephants Walk through the Gorbals). I asked Andy whether he’d mind ever so much if I guest blogged on his site, as I’m keen for my words and my writing to reach new audiences. Thankfully he agreed. So here goes.
My novelette ‘Mr. 0′ is receiving pretty good reviews at the moment, which I’m hugely grateful for. Many commentators have drawn comparisons between my story and that of Graham Greene’s ‘The Destructors’, and William Golding’s ‘The Lord of the Flies’. Which I’ll agree with to some extent because of the subject matter I cover, though certainly I’m not sure about being spoken of in the same breath as those two masters of English Literature.
My book, for those of you who haven’t read it, is a dystopian tale about the destructive power of evil. It transports Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ to a modern-day estate in the north east of England. I live in Selby at the moment, and the estate I drew is something like some of the estates there. But not wholly. Anyway, what prompted me to write the story were some local media reports about an alleged child-abuser being released from prison and housed in one of those estates, and the reaction of the local community to this ‘intruder’ in their midst.
And I wanted to tell the tale from the point of view of a child. I wondered what sense a child might make of all of the commotion and chaos which was wrought about them. I wondered whether I might make my child a forgiving one. And then I thought, who am I kidding? Because I don’t know many children who are.
It’s not a happy tale, but it’s a truthful one, and it shares a similar philosophy to William Golding’s: i.e. that the natural state for human beings, once we’ve thrown off the trappings of convention and morality, is cruelty, is savagery. If we don’t feel as though we have someone looking over our shoulders, we can become monsters – just like the kids on the island in Lord of the Flies. There they are removed from society, from parental judgment and from punishment, and quickly they become savage.
I recently re-read another of Golding’s dark tales; the Booker Prize winning Rites of Passage. Like Lord of the Flies the story is set in a location at one remove from the world. Here, we encounter the passengers on a ship sailing from Britain to Australia. God’s and Britain’s laws are subsumed by ‘rules of the sea’ and the laws of the captain. And in this case, these new ‘laws’ become a license to terrorise one of the passengers (just like Piggy in Flies).
It’s an excoriating commentary on how we are. And, without meaning to depress anyone, there’s any number of news stories around at the moment which back-up Golding’s theorum regarding our essential natures.
I’m currently working on a new novel, and I was hoping to inject a little light into this one. However just when I think I’m out, the savagery pulls me back in. I’m sorry, I can only tell the truth as I see it. See this excellent article from The Guardian on the truth about evil for example, particularly the section on Hannah Arendt. “Arendt suggested that human beings commit atrocities from a kind of stupidity, falling into a condition of thoughtlessness in which they collude in practices that inflict atrocious suffering on other human beings.”
That’s what I tried to recreate in ‘Mr. 0’…
Thanks very much for listening to my musings. You can get a hold of my novelette ‘Mr. 0′ from all good bookshops.
Vinny Markham and his gang of mates are troubled.
They have discovered their new neighbour might have a very dark past.
And they don’t know what to do about it.
But they know they should do something.
But with their only role-models the itinerant fathers they are at once ashamed and in awe of, there is something inevitable about the dark, destructive, and lawless nature of the boys’ response.
Recalling Graham Greene’s ‘The Destructors’, and William Golding’s ‘The Lord of the Flies’, Aine Cabaye’s dystopian short story about the destructive power of evil transports Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ to a modern-day estate in the north east of England.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aine J. Cabaye is half-Irish, half-French, and lives halfway between Leeds and Hull, in the north east of England. She is the parent of one child, Noel, and of four books, the first two of which are to be published by White House Press.