Life of Maggot by Paul Jameson

Wendy Waters’s review of Life of Maggot | Goodreads

Paul Jameson is a master wordsmith. His tour de force Masterpiece, Life of Maggot, is a tone poem, a paeon to the power, durability and endurance of Nature, a postscript to a mad world of human invention, convention and ignorance.

As humanity slowly erases itself through endless war, savagery and greed, Peg the Queen of Nature watches from her sacred hill and saves the life of one small boy – perhaps the only worthy human left on the planet after the savage murder of his parents and The-Lady-Upstairs. I pronounced Maggot with the accent on the second syllable throughout the reading – rather like begot. I’ve no idea why but it just sat right for me. Apologies Mr. Jameson!

Jameson writes like no other unless it be Emily Bronte or that genius Shakespeare whose intouchness with the Kingdom of Other was equally profound. Jameson takes us into the world of Sprites, Elves, Faeries, Imps, Gods and Goddesses gently and completely and illuminates through them the hope that many of us need today as we watch the world incinerate and teeter on the edge of nuclear disaster. This is a post-apocalyptic world with a single portal through an ancient Yew tree that leads into a world devoid of Monstrous men and women with monstrous appetites, monstrous greed and obscene vanity. The harbinger of the return of the planet to its original owners?

Sound familiar?

I highlighted nearly all the language, so beautiful, visceral and talismanic enough to enter the bones, the blood and lastly, the soul.

When finally, she who is named Peg, Queen of Otherworld, knows the last horseman flames the night sky and death is inevitable she takes the man-child, Maggot, through the portal in the ancient Yew tree, a portal all the wise and knowing animals have already taken and presumably into a future as profoundly risky as the occupants of the Ark encountered when finally, the dove returned with an olive sprig.

I cannot praise this language highly enough, so I’ll let Jameson’s words speak for themselves. This describes the end of the human world.

An explosion.
Behind and to the south. Blinding. A pillar of fire as reaches for the heavens. Without a word then Peg lifts Maggot, picks him up physical and carries him into Old Yew through the largest gap. Over shoulder Maggot sees fire block out stars, and Peg whispers in ear. A spell. In a strange tongue she sings, and it is as if they are of the tree. Climb at once to t’ highest leaf and swirl there in the wind, descend wild circle of stars to t’ roots and rocks below. Ride waves of time and space; see dark there the light, a sea as roils, and flee the fire the chase, a world as melts.”

I think Emily Bronte, that woodland nymph, child of nature and lover of the Moors would have adored this book. I think Shakespeare would have recognised a rival with as musical and keen an ear as his own and lastly, my highest praise of all: Jameson is to literature what Sondheim is theatre.
Bravo Paul Jameson!

5 Star Review for Paradis Inferno

Paradis Inferno

Paradis Inferno

Wendy Waters (Goodreads Author)

Dustin Rielly‘s review

Nov 11, 2022


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The devil takes centre stage in Wendy Waters PARADIS INFERNO, the authors sequel to CATCH THE MOON, MARY. Descending from the sky over the English Channel, the disembodied Cherub takes a human form, and sweeps through modern day Europe on a quest for the one thing riches cannot buy – creativity. Aesthetically evoking Anne Rice, and with themes reminiscent of THE PARIS LIBRARY, in PARADIS INFERNO Wendy Waters tackles some big issues – heaven, hell, redemption, complex characters, issues of modern society and human connection as a bulwark against evil. Does it work? Yes – the author admirably links the levels of complexity into a seamless, engaging narrative.

Once on Earth, Satan takes the name Stanas Vedil, and the ruler of hell is soon living in his accustomed wealth and luxury, socializing with the elites, and interfering in the lives of mortals in pursuit of nefarious ends. His stream of consciousness, still reflecting his previous visit to Earth in a period roughly from the Renaissance to the Reformation, and burdened with age old conflicts and grudges, creates a compelling juxtaposition with his modern-day machinations via smart phones and night-club acquisitions.

When the devil becomes aware that Mary Ferranti (the protagonist of the previous book), a mortal whose music and creativity captivated the world years earlier, will play again in a concert to be held in an ancient Roman amphitheatre in France, he is determined to learn – and steal – the secret of her genius by any means necessary. Through a series of covert interactions, the devil ingratiates himself with Mary’s family; her son Rigel who is the son of the angel Gabriel, and Rigel’s wife Samantha. The targets of Satan’s manipulation are given hints about his true identity, such as protests against his Paradis Inferno nightclubs, which raises tension about whether they will guess who he really is before it’s too late.

The author handles the complex grand narratives of Satan’s character – age old celestial conflicts, his captivating insights into contemporary social issues, his new personal human connections and manipulations, and most interestingly, his inner torment generated by the conflict between his numerous selfish flaws and his desire for redemption – in a way that engages the reader on a number of levels. His formidable intellect is at war with his capacity for enlightenment, sabotaging his every moment; he finds solace from his aloof, emotional dislocation by seeking connection with a house rodent, and his honesty in these encounters is captivating. His moral corruption, which battles with his desperate need for growth and connection, is portrayed compellingly in lines such as, ’Why make the universe when you can buy it?’ But it’s his own blindness to his self-constructed prison that really engages, and the author handles this superbly with great insight into human nature, humanizing the epic scope.

Philosophical and moral explorations are balanced with the lively interactions and dialogue of Mary’s family, and these scenes flesh-out the dramatic situation and provide relief from the devil’s escapades; I got lost in these extended dialogues sometimes – with who slept where, or left who and why, but was always pulled back in. It may help if you’ve read the previous book, although it’s not necessary as the story stands on its own. The author’s prose shines, elegantly complementing and simplifying the deeper, complex themes.

This is the devil’s story – and he successfully seduces the reader, gradually pulling you into his conflicted, epic world. Will he steal Mary’s soul, as he intends? Or will he change and finally achieve a redemptive arc? What kept me engaged was the authenticity of the devil’s conflict, which had me turning the pages toward his ultimate confrontation with Mary. I highly recommend this book.