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After Brock

Paul Binding
ISBN-13: 
9781854115683
Format: 
Paperback
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 30, 2012
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"Animal magic on the borders between youth and maturity" – The Independent

"After Brock shows how natural drama infuses human behaviour with resonant meaning, and vice versa." The Spectator

"...a fascinating and unique tale..."Buzz Magazine

"...a novel of parallel worlds, both paternal and environmental." New Welsh Review

"This book is a hidden gem, and deserves to be read and recognised as such." - Gwales

"enjoyable" - Our Book Reviews Online Blog

In Paul Binding’s After Brock, Pete, a talented and intelligent schoolboy, though an outsider in both home and school life, enters and wins a quiz show ‘High Flyers’ a name that is to resonate throughout the rest of his life. One December night after watching his mother perform in the Mikado with a local amateur dramatics society he meets Sam, an attractive and flamboyant boy, somewhat of a misfit with whom his infatuation is instant. They begin a tempestuous friendship seeking a world removed from the difficulties of home life: Sam’s alcoholic mother and Pete’s frayed relationship with his unappreciative family. They confide in each other with almost everything. They become obsessed with UFOs and otherworldly phenomena, inseparable until one day they embark on a journey sparked by a sighting of something deep in the Berwyn mountains but this event leads to a terrible betrayal. Thirty-five years later Pete’s own son, Nat, disappears and is found in that very same place. A scrupulous journalist appears and, suspecting foul play, is determined to find out what led Nat there and why…

"Animal magic on the borders between youth and maturity" – The Independent

"After Brock shows how natural drama infuses human behaviour with resonant meaning, and vice versa." The Spectator

"...a fascinating and unique tale..."Buzz Magazine

"...a novel of parallel worlds, both paternal and environmental." New Welsh Review

"This book is a hidden gem, and deserves to be read and recognised as such." - Gwales

"enjoyable" - Our Book Reviews Online Blog

In Paul Binding’s After Brock, Pete, a talented and intelligent schoolboy, though an outsider in both home and school life, enters and wins a quiz show ‘High Flyers’ a name that is to resonate throughout the rest of his life. One December night after watching his mother perform in the Mikado with a local amateur dramatics society he meets Sam, an attractive and flamboyant boy, somewhat of a misfit with whom his infatuation is instant. They begin a tempestuous friendship seeking a world removed from the difficulties of home life: Sam’s alcoholic mother and Pete’s frayed relationship with his unappreciative family. They confide in each other with almost everything. They become obsessed with UFOs and otherworldly phenomena, inseparable until one day they embark on a journey sparked by a sighting of something deep in the Berwyn mountains but this event leads to a terrible betrayal. Thirty-five years later Pete’s own son, Nat, disappears and is found in that very same place. A scrupulous journalist appears and, suspecting foul play, is determined to find out what led Nat there and why…

User Reviews

Anonymous's picture

Review from Gwales

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Binding is a novelist of keen perceptions. His wonderful depiction of the Marches – its towns and countryside, its rural lanes and ancient crags, its geological history stretching back over several hundred millennia – suggests a deep engagement with place and an awareness of the way in which our current environment has been shaped by its tumultuous past. So too have his characters’ present selves been moulded by their personal histories. Showing a keen emotional intelligence and a remarkable understanding and forgiveness of human frailties, Binding captures the adolescent pendulum-swing of brash confidence and intense insecurity, and the mid-life conundrum of whether to maintain your hope and faith in the future, despite all the contraditory evidence, or to succumb to a belief in the inevitable tragedy of human existence.

In After Brock, Binding successfully combines a riveting story with a deeper contemplation of the human condition. One of our most highly respected contemporary novelists recently said that he ‘used to think age brings wisdom, but it only brings confusion’. Appealing as they may be, Binding refuses the comforts of easy aphorisms in his compassionate portrayal of the complexities of human nature and experience. This book is a hidden gem, and deserves to be read and recognised as such.

Gwales 2012

09/08/2012 - 14:33
Anonymous's picture

Review from Buzz Magazine

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This is a fascinating and unique tale from author Paul Binding of the struggles of adolescence, isolation, fantasy versus reality, infatuation and the modern day dysfunctional family unit.

Buzz Magazine July 2012

04/07/2012 - 09:51
Anonymous's picture

Review from The Independent

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The badger features in country tales are by the likes of Beatrix Potter and Kenneth Grahame, and in Alison Uttley's The Tales of Four Pigs and the Brock. The name derives from Old English brocc or the Welsh broch. Yet Paul Binding's After Brock has to be the first grown-up novel punctuated by sightings of the creature, each one a game-changer in the triangular relationship between Pete (the father), Nat (his son) and Sam (Pete's friend). The rural context is the Marches; the topology is fundamental, and the lyrical descriptions of the Welsh Border and its animals a beautiful treat.

The story opens with Nat's disappearance from his Herefordshire home. His recovery, via helicopter and with a broken ankle, is closely documented by a local reporter, Luke, who researches and then refracts its relevance to Pete's hidden past. For Pete too "vanished" into the Cambrian hills following an escapade with the glamorous Sam, back in the 1970s. Sam invited Pete out for his first night drive in his first car. As they cross into Shropshire, "a large shambling creature, dark-haired, much the colour of the evening itself" moves "at a slow trot towards a clump of ferns beneath a modest outcrop of rock". It signals mutual closeness and disclosure between the friends as they discuss their unsatisfactory parents and their need for liberation. Pete also obtains an early inkling that there could well be more to learn from animals than from friends.

By New Year, Sam and Pete are jaunting across the Welsh border to spot UFOs and meet a New Age avatar at Llanfyllin. While Sam's head is again filled with higher things, Pete mentally salutes a fresh sighting of a badger. While Pete finds "comfort and satisfaction" in the brock, Sam is hell-bent on spotting UFOs. The pair fall out of kilter, falling first into tenderness and then to violence as Pete, "the junior partner in a madcap enterprise", attempts to remain grounded and Sam takes flight into fantasy. He accuses his friend of betrayal and then abandons him, wounded and bleeding, amid the Cambrian hills and the icy night.

It is only at the end that Pete understands both youthful attraction and a desire for freedom from Sam's domination – what he meant by his resolution that "when this (or that) adventure was over, he would pay badgers the kind of attention he had hitherto given to less sensate subjects". Reparations with older generations may have become impossible, but making peace with the next is all the more pressing.

Father's and son's rites of passage prompts a review of tangled lives in this novel of three parts: part lads' rural road-trip, part solo voyage of discovery, part philosophical assessment. Yet it is the descriptions of the land that are the principal joys of this book. Mothers and girlfriends are relegated to the margins. Their impact on the boys' lives seems less than that of the badgers.

12/06/2012 - 10:09

Comments

Anonymous's picture

Review from The Independent

0
No votes yet

The badger features in country tales are by the likes of Beatrix Potter and Kenneth Grahame, and in Alison Uttley's The Tales of Four Pigs and the Brock. The name derives from Old English brocc or the Welsh broch. Yet Paul Binding's After Brock has to be the first grown-up novel punctuated by sightings of the creature, each one a game-changer in the triangular relationship between Pete (the father), Nat (his son) and Sam (Pete's friend). The rural context is the Marches; the topology is fundamental, and the lyrical descriptions of the Welsh Border and its animals a beautiful treat.

The story opens with Nat's disappearance from his Herefordshire home. His recovery, via helicopter and with a broken ankle, is closely documented by a local reporter, Luke, who researches and then refracts its relevance to Pete's hidden past. For Pete too "vanished" into the Cambrian hills following an escapade with the glamorous Sam, back in the 1970s. Sam invited Pete out for his first night drive in his first car. As they cross into Shropshire, "a large shambling creature, dark-haired, much the colour of the evening itself" moves "at a slow trot towards a clump of ferns beneath a modest outcrop of rock". It signals mutual closeness and disclosure between the friends as they discuss their unsatisfactory parents and their need for liberation. Pete also obtains an early inkling that there could well be more to learn from animals than from friends.

By New Year, Sam and Pete are jaunting across the Welsh border to spot UFOs and meet a New Age avatar at Llanfyllin. While Sam's head is again filled with higher things, Pete mentally salutes a fresh sighting of a badger. While Pete finds "comfort and satisfaction" in the brock, Sam is hell-bent on spotting UFOs. The pair fall out of kilter, falling first into tenderness and then to violence as Pete, "the junior partner in a madcap enterprise", attempts to remain grounded and Sam takes flight into fantasy. He accuses his friend of betrayal and then abandons him, wounded and bleeding, amid the Cambrian hills and the icy night.

It is only at the end that Pete understands both youthful attraction and a desire for freedom from Sam's domination – what he meant by his resolution that "when this (or that) adventure was over, he would pay badgers the kind of attention he had hitherto given to less sensate subjects". Reparations with older generations may have become impossible, but making peace with the next is all the more pressing.

Father's and son's rites of passage prompts a review of tangled lives in this novel of three parts: part lads' rural road-trip, part solo voyage of discovery, part philosophical assessment. Yet it is the descriptions of the land that are the principal joys of this book. Mothers and girlfriends are relegated to the margins. Their impact on the boys' lives seems less than that of the badgers.

12/06/2012 - 10:09
Anonymous's picture

Review from Buzz Magazine

0
No votes yet

This is a fascinating and unique tale from author Paul Binding of the struggles of adolescence, isolation, fantasy versus reality, infatuation and the modern day dysfunctional family unit.

Buzz Magazine July 2012

04/07/2012 - 09:51
Anonymous's picture

Review from Gwales

0
No votes yet

Binding is a novelist of keen perceptions. His wonderful depiction of the Marches – its towns and countryside, its rural lanes and ancient crags, its geological history stretching back over several hundred millennia – suggests a deep engagement with place and an awareness of the way in which our current environment has been shaped by its tumultuous past. So too have his characters’ present selves been moulded by their personal histories. Showing a keen emotional intelligence and a remarkable understanding and forgiveness of human frailties, Binding captures the adolescent pendulum-swing of brash confidence and intense insecurity, and the mid-life conundrum of whether to maintain your hope and faith in the future, despite all the contraditory evidence, or to succumb to a belief in the inevitable tragedy of human existence.

In After Brock, Binding successfully combines a riveting story with a deeper contemplation of the human condition. One of our most highly respected contemporary novelists recently said that he ‘used to think age brings wisdom, but it only brings confusion’. Appealing as they may be, Binding refuses the comforts of easy aphorisms in his compassionate portrayal of the complexities of human nature and experience. This book is a hidden gem, and deserves to be read and recognised as such.

Gwales 2012

09/08/2012 - 14:33
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