After the Fire, A Still Small Voice

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On this evidence, Wyld can match them both. What distinguishes Wyld is her incandescent empathy for her male characters and the things they are unable to say, the assurance with which she reaches for a rough-edged authenticity over the easy pleasures of lyricism. A revelation and a joy—wild, wise and wonderful. This adroit examination of loss, lostness and trauma is the beginning of great things. A stunning work from a brilliant new voice. Will keep you reading past bedtime. It's a cauterising, cleansing tale, told with muscular writing. An enticing debut novel.

It is a superb novel. Just stunningly good. It has a whole dark and brilliant life of its own.

After the Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld - Penguin Books New Zealand

And Jesus, there's not a single false note in the whole book: it's totally convincing, and written with incredible toughness, sureness and maturity. A terrifyingly good debut. There are moments here that still the breath—all you can hear is your own heart beating. Go figure.


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One of them even wakes up the others by shooting it. The violence turns real in an ambush, during which Leon is perfectly cool in his gunning-down of up to nine Viet Cong, including the boy his own age who had looked right at him. We get the story of Vicky, not really coping following the horrible death of their first child from leukaemia a couple of years previously.

In Chapter 15 we get something approaching the full story, from the two calculated slaps, one on each cheek, that were the beginning of the end. She has no family, was a foundling, and he resents her attempt to co-opt his family. It seems to me that Wyld relies too much on situations rather than the development of plot or character. Did she cut her teeth on short stories before this debut novel?

On more than one occasion he wishes he had someone simply to lie down next to; on another he plays out a scenario in which, with a couple of tweaks, a conversation with the fishing-tackle seller might have led to a drink in the pub; later he wonders if Sal — Wyld has gone quiet about Sal, now I think about it — would like to be picked up from school. Meanwhile, Leon is having a bad time. Miraculously, the tiny mud baby survives. He also survives what seems to be the threat of a shark attack, gets himself cleaned up — shave, removal of ticks — by Vicky, and attends the funeral of the missing girl.

And, oh yeh: Lucy has been looking for him in Sydney.

Old Testament Lesson 28: “After the Fire a Still Small Voice”

Obviously, the most important thread is his realisation that the argument with his father needs to be brought to some kind of resolution. He takes the address she gives him, but nothing is resolved. Under control. But, a few chapters from the end, any voice there might be is too small for Frank to hear. On his return from his three-day trip to find his father, Frank discovers that Sal went missing more or less just when he left. This news arrives piecemeal, after he finds his shack ransacked and his vegetable garden dug up.

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What else, possibly? So the unfortunate turn his relationship has taken with the parents, with Bob wanting to smash him up in spite of the alibi and Vicky wanting to scream obscenities at him, all comes right. His chapters end with him looking on as the little family begins to bond for the first time ever. The end. Anything else about Frank? Another ghost is the grown-up version of June Shannon, who he remembers as a bitch when they were at school. And it allows Wyld to shoehorn in a rare sex scene. That final ambush in the jungle seems to signal the early end of his army career, presumably because Wyld has taken what she needs from it.

What she needs now is the aftermath. At one points he finds himself declaiming an earlier phrase from that quotation from Kings. Fair enough… but one day, haunted and not thinking straight, he forgets to fill up both his petrol tank and his supply of drinking water and is left stranded in the desert.


  • After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld | Penguin Random House Canada.
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  • He is saved by — what should I call them? What ends it for him is their killing of a cow for meat.

    King James Version (KJV)

    Can we be right without being jerks about it? And can we talk about Elijah killing the priests of Baal? We tend to privilege action: reading scriptures, saying prayers, attending the temple, obeying the commandments. Finding quiet in our lives in can be hard, with the incessant buzzing of smartphones, the call of another great show to binge-watch on Netflix, and 10, other features of our modern world. Benedict fled Rome in search of quiet some years ago, and many Desert Fathers and Mothers preceded him.

    Jesus himself moved back and forth between the wilderness and the city. What are we doing now, and what else could we do, to keep that still small voice part of our lives? Overvaluing institutional speech risks turning the Holy Ghost—a member of the Godhead, after all—into a rubber stamp. Or, as Jesus said, the Spirit blows where it lists. Who are we to presume limitations on what the Spirit can reveal to us?


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    • That said, I think that this lesson goes some way toward resolving that tension, especially if we read prophetic authority less as an end unto itself than as the byproduct of what happens when someone calls us to live more fully into our relationship with God and our fellow human beings. Jason K.

      Before we ascribe too much injustice to the killing of the priests of Baal, remember that Jezebel had been killing the prophets of the Lord, probably at the behest of, but certainly for the benefit of, those priests of Baal. I like the thoughts on contemplation, but Elijah had had years of time to contemplate, both by the brook being fed by ravens and at the widows home.

      BibleGateway

      It sounds like Elijah thought himself a failure and he was shortly replaced by Elisha. Maybe the miracle shocked some of the people out of complacency enough that it gave the Holy Spirit an opportunity to start working on them. Justice under the Law of Moses was never just the lex talionis, but also included care for the poor, the widow, and the stranger. I mean, Jesus was quoting Leviticus when he told us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

      Elijah dramatically demonstrates that Yahweh is greater than El the bull , Asherah the wood , Yam the water , Mot death , and Baal lightning. But the stories of Elijah do little for me devotionally. I do not expect God to send ravens to feed me, or lightning to start my fires.

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