As in its predecessor The Offing, Benjamin Myers’ new novel The Perfect Golden Circle has, at its heart, an odd couple. It’s the long, hot summer of 1989, and Calvert, physically and mentally scarred by combat experience in the Falklands, and Redbone, a free-living crust-punk visionary, find themselves at the fringes of Thatcher’s Britain, drawn together by a compulsion to create intricate crop circles with craftsmanship and care.
Their project is political as well as personal and aesthetic. Using the landscape as a canvas, the pair are not only producing public art on a grand scale – ephemeral pieces that are symbols of hope and the subject of excited speculation – but also, like woodland ravers, reclaiming for the people a rural England that has been carved up into private estates and fenced-off pay-to-enter tourist attractions.
On occasion, the novel feels a little too much like a thesis set to fiction; Calvert is surprisingly voluble for someone who is supposedly taciturn by nature; and the dissolute, champagne-swilling landowner they encounter is an unnecessarily crude caricature. But overall The Perfect Golden Circle is a sensuous evocation of the English countryside, a well-drawn portrait of a curious and controversial period in recent British history, and a powerful ode to the creative urge.
The Perfect Golden Circle, Benjamin Myers (Bloomsbury)
Price: £16.99. Info: here
words BEN WOOLHEAD
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