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Blackmoor / Edward Hogan.

By: Hogan, Edward, 1980-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Simon & Schuster, 2008Description: 272 pages ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781847370983 (pbk.); 1847370985 (pbk.).Subject(s): Albinos and albinism -- England -- Derbyshire -- Fiction | Omens -- England -- Derbyshire -- Fiction | Marginality, Social -- England -- Derbyshire -- Fiction | Albinos and albinism -- Fiction | Marginality, Social -- Fiction | Family secrets -- England -- Derbyshire -- Fiction | Extinct cities -- England -- Derbyshire -- Fiction | Fathers and sons -- Fiction | Albinos and albinism England Derbyshire Fiction | Omens England Derbyshire Fiction | Marginality, Social England Derbyshire Fiction | Derbyshire (England) Social life and customs Fiction | Derbyshire (England) -- Social life and customs -- FictionGenre/Form: General fiction.DDC classification: 823.92 Review: "Bird-watching teenager Vincent Cartwright lives out a bullied, awkward existence not far from the site of Blackmoor, a mysterious Derbyshire village that no longer exists. His mother Beth, half-blind and unknowable, and her life and death in that same village has always been a dark family secret, but as Vincent comes of age he begins to search for the truth." "What happened in Blackmoor - the destruction of an industry, the dissolution of a community, and Beth's persecution at the hands of superstitious locals - is a moving, haunting story of a young woman whose face didn't fit, and a past that refuses to go away."--BOOK JACKET.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Beth is an albino, half blind, and given to looking at the world out of the corner of her eye. Her neighbours in the Derbyshire town of Blackmoor have always thought she was 'touched', and when a series of bizarre happenings shake the very foundations of the village, they are confirmed in their opinion that Beth is an ill omen. The neighbours say that Beth eats dirt from the flowerbeds, and that smoke rises from her lawn. By the end of the year, she is dead.

A decade later her son, Vincent, treated like a bad omen by his father George is living in a pleasant suburb miles from Blackmoor. There the bird-watching teenager stumbles towards the buried secrets of his mother's life and death in the abandoned village. It's the story of a community that fell apart, a young woman whose face didn't fit, and a past that refuses to go away.

"Bird-watching teenager Vincent Cartwright lives out a bullied, awkward existence not far from the site of Blackmoor, a mysterious Derbyshire village that no longer exists. His mother Beth, half-blind and unknowable, and her life and death in that same village has always been a dark family secret, but as Vincent comes of age he begins to search for the truth." "What happened in Blackmoor - the destruction of an industry, the dissolution of a community, and Beth's persecution at the hands of superstitious locals - is a moving, haunting story of a young woman whose face didn't fit, and a past that refuses to go away."--BOOK JACKET.

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Excerpt provided by Syndetics

ONE Church Eaton, April 2003. George Cartwright's Ford Mondeo cuts through the pleasant Derbyshire village of Church Eaton, far away from Blackmoor. George drives aggressively. His son, Vincent, sits in the back, holding the seat belt away from his body because the sun-cooked nylon burns his bare teenage chest. Vincent watches his father's short brown hair stiffly lifted by the warm breeze coming through the open window. This one-week spring heatwave will bring out bumblebees and daffodils just to drown them with sudden showers. George curses. Up ahead, a group of cyclists hog the road like wasps in the neck of a bottle. Their bright jerseys look melted to their bodies. 'Two abreast,' George says under his breath. After several attempts, he makes his pass and leans out of the window. 'You're supposed to be two abreast, not bloody four,' he shouts. One of the cyclists thumps the boot as they go by. Vincent yelps and George nearly swerves off the road. 'Townie bastards,' he says, and puts his foot down. As they drive the half-mile to the Anchor pub, Vincent listens to his father justify what he is about to do. 'There are rules, okay? So everyone can get by. When you're on your bike, it's two abreast, not four. Do you see? Do you see how that helps people?' 'Yep,' says Vincent. They pull into the pub car park. George winds up the window, gets out, locks the car, and crouches behind the dwarf wall by the entrance. He looks down the road, waiting. Vincent watches him, the lines of the rear-window heater in shadow on the boy's face. After a few moments, George jumps over the wall and throws himself into a blur of colour. His punch seems to knock the cyclist clean into existence. The injured man is suddenly there, crawling on the pavement. He keeps bending his knee in an attempt to stand, a cruel parody of his cycling action. His mouth is bleeding, and his bike lies upside down, squeaking as the buckled rim catches the brake pad. Vincent frowns and licks the salty residue forming on his dry lips. His father returns to the car, gets in and starts the engine. One of the other cyclists runs after them as they pull away. Vincent thinks he looks strange without his bike, in his redundant helmet and padded shorts. The man swears at them but George just smiles. 'Two abreast,' he says. 'So folk can get by.' If they were to hear of such an event, the few Church Eaton residents who know George Cartwright would say that the cyclist episode is perfectly characteristic of his behaviour. Mrs Rogers on Vicarage Road would refer to the time when George clipped one of her decorative garden rocks with his car and then proceeded to hurl the stone down the street. He used bad language in front of the children. Even Vincent would agree that aggression is his father's dominant trait, for he never knew the Blackmoor George, and a lot has happened since those days. In fact, not too many people hear of George's attack on the cyclist. Unlike Blackmoor, Church Eaton is not a place for rumours. For better or worse, people are not so interested in each other's business. George and Vincent have lived in Church Eaton for a long time now, in a house built into a hill. It seems like a bungalow from the front, the bottom floor revealing itself as the land drops away behind. George bought the house because of this unusual design. Most of the windows, even on the top floor, open on to the ground. That is how he likes it. The place is furnished with a magpie mix of cut-price flat-packed chairs and expensive pine wardrobes, an ugly leather sofa in the living room; everything bought as required, for convenience. Vincent cannot remember living anywhere else. At thirteen, he is growing rapidly in an awkward, lanky way. His hair is curling - blond, but not that blond. He does not have the antisocial paleness of his mother. His face is breaking out in spots and his upper back is already covered. Father and son sleep in the same room on the bottom floor because the upstairs bedroom opens on to a drop. Vincent does not find this strange, for it has always been this way. The slugs arrive with the spring rain. The damp from winter temporarily revisits the lower floor of the Cartwright house and the slick creatures quickly seek out these dark continents. Vincent is fascinated by them, especially their ability to appear so suddenly, while seeming so slow. He measures how long it takes a slug to move eight centimetres along his shatterproof ruler (on which the other kids have scratched 'Birdman is a twat'), and then calculates the time it would take one to get to his room from any conceivable opening. He estimates a journey time of eighteen hours from the front door, yet one night he waits up until 3 a.m. and there is not even one in the hall. Each morning he watches their slow surge along the skirting boards, or else he opens the door to those stragglers who flop, semi-erect against the milk bottles. He pulls everything on slugs from the school library and finds they are hermaphrodites that breathe through a hole in their backs. Not only can they climb trees, it transpires, they can also abseil back down along 'thin wires of their own mucus'. He pictures slugs swinging from the shade of their bedroom light. His father does not share his enthusiasm. One morning over breakfast, George confesses to finding one on the windowsill as though it is some embarrassing disease. 'Have you seen any over your side?' he asks. Vincent thinks about the right answer, about the blind affection of the slug by his bedside cabinet that dawn. The searching of its beaded horns across his finger. 'No,' he says. 'Well, I shouldn't worry. I know how to get rid of the buggers.' 'I don't mind them.' 'I mind them. They eat the hosta and the lupins. Besides, there isn't a living creature on this earth carries more bacteria than a slug.' 'Hosta?' says Vincent. 'Slugs can abseil.' George holds his toast by his lips. 'You need to stop talking like that. Funny talk. I've told you, it can get you into trouble.' 'I'm just trying to tell you that it might not be so easy to get rid of them.' 'It'll be easy. Slugs have the same vices as men, that's what your granddad used to say.' That night George declares war on the slugs by pouring flat Pedigree bitter into old vases. Vincent watches him kneel on the doorstep like a fanatic. He watches the streetlight bend through the syrupy dregs and cut glass to make thistles on his father's face. Vincent stares at the trap. 'They're living beings,' he says. 'Not in the morning they aren't.' The next day, Vincent wakes with optimism, convinced that the slugs have won. You don't use your own phlegm as a zipwire and then fall for the old hustler's booze trick. It is early, still dark. Vincent gets out of bed and sways curiously. He often loses his balance these days, since a boy at school pulled his arm behind his back. Sometimes at night he reaches for the door handle and it takes him a few attempts to grasp it. He goes into the bathroom and finds no slugs. There are no slugs in the hall either. Outside, the vase has clouded slightly but Vincent can already see what has happened. A fat slug curls into the beer, its drunken head pressed against the base. Another one is half-submerged, sliding slowly along the inside of the glass like a disarranged joke shop moustache. Vincent scoops it out and places it on the handrail of the steps leading down to the garden. It slips off and makes a wet kiss on the concrete. This goes on for several weeks. Whenever Vincent finds a sozzled corpse, he wishes some accident upon his father. The thoughts, which are almost spontaneous, frighten him. His schoolteachers criticize his 'overactive imagination' and he takes this literally: he almost believes that if he imagines something with enough quality, it will take place. Lying in bed across from his father, he fantasizes about car crashes and policemen at the door. ('Are you Vincent Cartwright?' 'Yes.' 'There's been an accident. Your dad.' 'What's his condition?' Vincent asks, and they are surprised by his maturity.) Vincent begins to sneak outside and throw the dregs on to the grass when his father has gone to bed. It works for a few days. He feels a great sense of glee when the moonlight catches the beer and burns a mauve wormcast on to the sky above the garden. But within a week, his father counters by waking early and sprinkling salt on the slugs outside the door. They foam gruesomely, dry out to brittle sticks. So now Vincent takes them down to the bird table to lend their deaths some meaning. The garden is large, on three levels. George leaves it wild. Vincent spends his mornings on the top level, looking out over the Amber Valley with a dead slug in his hand. He watches the birds living out their parallel lives over the oblivious villagers just 130 feet below in Church Eaton. Vincent believes he has more chance of deciphering the coded movements of the magpies and jackdaws than he does of understanding the rituals of the living room or school corridor. The silver badge of the Young Ornithologists Club shines upon the detachable arm of his jacket/body warmer. He cannot count the number of times that arm has been forcibly detached by his classmates. 'Birdman,' they say. 'Yes?' says Vincent, and they laugh. 'What's so good about birds anyway?' 'Apart from insects, birds are the only animals that can fly. I think that's pretty good.' 'Flamingos can fly.' 'Flamingos are birds.' 'So? Twat.' A field borders the Church Eaton garden on the east side. It slopes down towards the Cartwrights, and the farmer keeps his Friesians on the hill. Vincent knows that in summer he will be able to lie on his back and - if he gets the angle right - it will appear that the cows are floating above the fence. For some reason this bovine flight heartens him. George often wakes before dawn, to the sound of his son singing in his sleep. Vincent belts out songs from George's era: James Taylor, early Michael Jackson, right up to Kate Bush and The Smiths. His voice is on the edge of breaking so he can hit the high notes and the low. George creeps across the room, shakes his son until he stops singing. When this eerie crooning interrupts his sleep, George goes up to the kitchen and tinkers with various broken appliances. Clock radios or toasters. It soothes him. Hours later he looks through the blind slats at his son walking to school. The other children cross the road to avoid Vincent. George has been watching him a lot lately, watching him bend backwards with his binoculars in the garden, watching his hand expand in the green water of his makeshift Tupperware marina, tadpoles swimming through the fingers like dark thoughts growing. Vincent does not know what happened in Blackmoor. George told him that his mother became ill and died. Nothing to do with anyone else. It is hardly a lie, and George knows that if you tell a child something when they are young enough, they will never challenge it. Like sleeping in the same room as their father. Whether he means to or not - whether consciously or otherwise - George blames his son. But blaming someone is only satisfying and simple when you can tell them what they did. When you cannot voice the accusation, it becomes your own burden. George has come to resent his son's ignorance, his freedom from guilt. Sometimes George wants to tell him, he wants to say, 'It was your fault. You killed her.' But if he told him that, he would have to tell him everything. In the evenings George descends to the living room and stares out of the French doors - the 'patio windows' as he calls them. In the valley, the lights blink behind the silhouettes of gently shivering trees. Sometimes as night falls, he believes he can see the other village, although this is impossible - Blackmoor is twelve miles away. Nevertheless, a thick black space the size of a postage stamp seems to appear against the pimply illuminations of the other towns and villages. He does not seek it but sometimes it transfixes him, that tiny hole. Then he shuts it out and shakes the memories from his head, like a wet dog ridding itself of water. A Blackmoor woman jumped to her death from the second-floor window of her house last Thursday. Witnesses believe that Elizabeth Cartwright, 36, of Slack Lane, had watched her young son fall from the same window moments before. The boy, a toddler, had landed safely in a flower basin below the house. A report in the North Derbyshire Herald , 26 June 1992 Excerpted from Blackmoor by Edward Hogan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.