The bright side of my condition by Charlotte Randall – 2014

Bright side of my conditionThe bright side of my condition is superb! Based on an historical incident where four escaped convicts were left on one of the Snares islands – the captain promising to pick them up one year later – but failing to do so. The story is told from the point of view of ‘Bloodworth’ one of the castaways – writing in a yeasty vernacular. Bloodworth is unencumbered by arrogance, religion or ‘art’ (as each of his fellows is) and takes his extraordinary circumstance to try and think his way through what it is to experience life – and in doing so is able eventually to reach a measure of peace and enlightenment on the tiny island, among the sea creatures that migrate in and out. Whether arguing about the naturalistic fallacy: “That very famous man say yer can’t get orta from what is, but aint the opposite jes as bad? Making up a bunch of rules and saying the world orta be like it, whether it can be or no?”, or philosophising about freedom: “Often there aint a wall or sea around you at all, yet still something keep yer running on the spot” he finds himself more and more removed from his fellows and more in common with his surroundings: “But do the penguin fish or the albatrosses say to themselves, well there aint no one watching, so let’s not bother with the half of it, let’s forget this wide wind gliding, let’s forget this penguin dance of love, let’s cut all the corners, make everything round and easy as a wheel.” The bright side of my condition is a beautiful contemplation on what life could be and the sadness of what it often is – how our choices are so often not real choices but just a continuation of behaviours we have always known. Along with Bloodworth we appreciate the ‘soulless’ life of the animals whose existence is expressed purely in their behaviour: “Seem to me it’s in the doing that the being come.” I loved this book and I am sure many other readers will too.

 

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