Termush (Faber Editions): 'A classic―stunning, dangerous, darkly beautiful' (Jeff VanderMeer)

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Termush (Faber Editions): 'A classic―stunning, dangerous, darkly beautiful' (Jeff VanderMeer)

Termush (Faber Editions): 'A classic―stunning, dangerous, darkly beautiful' (Jeff VanderMeer)

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One picture in our minds gives us constant anxiety; we see the day when the fish leave the water and push through the sand and earth to the trees, where they bite into the bark with their skinless jaws and drag themselves up into the branches to live according to new instincts. We see the trees bare of leaves, festooned with fishy skeletons, their skins rustling like a death-rattle.” No, I mean after all we have experienced in the last few days. Or rather all that we have been spared from experiencing, but which we know has happened." I include myself in these observations, because I go about preoccupied with the coppery-green colour of the carpet, which annoys me, and the noise from the room next door which impinges on me against my will. The armchair is the only item of furniture in the room which gives me satisfaction. Even the mirror has a frame which makes it clash with the rest of the furnishings. A series of brief chapters, recounted dreams and events, relate the process of interior transformation experienced by N as the normalcy becomes more and more a charade. Holm introduces his central metaphor via Termush’s advertising brochure: “A physical aspect of the radioactive destruction is the transformation of elements” (9). What will change look like away from the signs of devastation? I have discussed this with my neighbours and some of the other guests here in the hotel and they do not disagree with me, even if they feel that I attach too much importance to one small incident.

Considering Termush was first published over half a century ago, it feels timeless, and has strong contemporary resonances with the 21st-century world. Exceptional writing. After a nuclear apocalypse the wealthy inhabitants of a hotel exit their underground bunker and begin to live their new normal lives in the hotel. However, their problems are only just beginning when survivors of the nuclear disaster begin to turn up at the hotel and tensions begin to run high between those who want to allow them to stay and those who wish to remain isolated. We gaze at the dark mass, where buildings, streets, trees, hordes of people, wide stretches of country with farms and herds of cattle are set solid like flies in amber… water streams out of the taps and the cars are piled up in the streets and nothing of this can be changed; the world has spun full circle, and the survivors must exist without it. Termush perfectly fits the spirit of our Faber Editions series resurrecting radical literary voices, and I can’t wait for a new generation of readers to experience this masterpiece. Despite weathering a nuclear apocalypse, their problems are only just beginning. Soon, the Management begins censoring news; disruptive guests are sedated; initial generosity towards Strangers ceases as fears of contamination and limited resources grow. But as the numbers - and desperation - of external survivors increase, admist this moral fallout, they must decide what it means to forge a new ethical code at the end (or beginning?) of the world ...I absolutely fell in love with the more political and moral elements of this story, and found it really highlights the journey of self-discovery once everything you thought you knew about yourself is stripped away from you. Everything was prepared. Even a Noah’s ark to take the chosen specimens of humanity to a life in another corner of the globe, complete with gardens and spring water, where one could breathe the air and touch the flowers and fruit without risking fatal injury. The end of the world in Termush comes by nuclear Armageddon, and if the fear of nuclear apocalypse has been superseded today by fears about climate change and pandemics, Holm’s vision of a world transfigured by an invisible poison is surprisingly applicable here too. Much of the book is given over to surreal descriptions, as the narrator imagines the invisible contagion that could kill him without him even knowing until it’s too late. The group turns out to consist of a radiation expert, a doctor and a few volunteers, who, so far as I know, offered their services while we were still underground in the shelters. Quite naturally younger men have been preferred for this assignment. It’s a series that puts the spotlight on rediscovered gems from Faber’s archive and beyond, resurrecting radical literary voices who speak to our present.

The reconnaissance men would take with them long-range microphone equipment and every morning the management would inform us what calculations and observations they had made the previous day. He] maintained that it was in fact essential to conceal what could be concealed; indeed, an inspired lie could be preferred to a malignant truth” (24). The patrol would of course be equipped with the necessary protective clothing, but the attempt to make it motorized had been abandoned. According to the last radio reports we received in the shelters the entire highway network has been destroyed. There was talk of using small scooters, but these are really better suited to shorter distances and the problem of fuel would be difficult to solve. The Drowned World was as I understand it translated to Danish by Nils Erik Wille and published 1969 by Hasselbalch. We did not envisage quite such a ruthless change in our environment. But one of the reasons for our feelings of weakness may be that things have retained their outward appearance, now that the disaster has happened. Without knowing it, we put our faith in the disaster; we thought that our panic would be justified if we had to use symbols as violent as those our imagination needed earlier.

N, and his fellow occupants, grapple with a disjointed experience. The hotel reproduces the world as if nothing has occurred–“We had unconsciously thought in terms of something more drastic, a radical transformation, with every single object showing traces of what had occurred, the furniture and the walls changing character and the view outside our window revealing a totally different world” (7). But even Termush isn’t spared from the tangible external signs of the apocalypse as survivors wander in from the surrounding towns, often on verge of death, and appear at the door. Welcome to Termush. Termush is a luxury coastal resort like no other. Find out more about what we have to offer, from gourmet dining to our in-house reconnaissance team. This book was so brilliant and unique, it reminded me of South by Babak Lakghomi which is became one of my favorite book as well.

The narrator, a former teacher, is doubtful of the integrity of those in power - questioning transparency, ethics, and the morality of the organisation. I tried illustrating some of the new designs, but I was missing the sense of making the invisible visible from the earlier rounds.

We did not envisage quite such a ruthless change in our environment. But one of the reasons for our feelings of weakness may be that things have retained their outward appearance, now that the disaster has happened. Without knowing it, we put our faith in the disaster; we thought our panic would be justified if we had to use symbols as violent as those our imagination needed earlier. It is in fact the scientific principle of observation and can thus easily be applied to the rest of existence. I wanted above all to avoid over-simplification, and individual action appeared to be a form of simplification.”



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