The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds

The Quickening Maze

Adam Foulds

Poets, lunatics, an inventor and a girl on the cusp of womanhood make their way blindly through the maze of life. I relished the poetic language and rich imagery, felt for the characters and reached the end wondering what are the boundaries between creativity and madness, love and self, health and sickness? If you love 19th century poetry, you will also enjoy this insight into the private lives of John Clare and Alfred Tennyson.

Extract

Ants fly over, carry beyond him. He can't follow them further. Like a lock gate opening in a canal, the water slumping in, his heavy rage returns. He presses himself to the tree, looks down and sees the roots reaching down into the earth. The admiral's hands. He has them himself for a second, thick, rooty fingers, twisted, numb. He shakes his hands and they're gone. They reappear at his feet, and clutch down. The painful numbness rises, his legs solidifying, a hard rind surrounding them, creeping upwards. He raises his arms. They crack and split and reach into the light. The bark covers his lips, covers his eyes. Going blind, he vomits leaves and growth. He yearns upwards into the air, dwindling, splitting, growing finer, to live points, to nerves. The wind moves agonisingly through him. He can't speak.
Stands in the wilderness of the world.

Parallels
  • The Underground Man by Mick Jackson
  • The Invention of Dr Cake by Andrew Motion
  • Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker
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Violence
Explicit sexual content