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?
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.
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!