Verdict: With a gradually unveiling storytelling style and a knack for nuance and well-picked detail, Eckles creates an involving and ultimately powerful story of personal exploration and societal growth.
In a post-apocalyptic world, former reality TV writer Deb and her husband Charles create a new life that is both rugged and quasi-mystical, thanks to a local and character-filled wild boar.
There is a trope that all science fiction and fantasy is a camouflaged way of discussing the thorny issues of the present, in which case THE LITERATURE PREFERRED BY WILD BOAR would appear to be asking: What is the role of nature in contemporary life? Set in 2045, after the vast majority of humanity has died off thanks to the effects of the “the great wobble,” a small community of people starts to forge a new life in the absence of fame, worldwide economic structures, or even a very rigid sense of time. Deb, a former journalist and TV writer, is reconciling her complex family history with the oddly bucolic present. Every choice she and her husband Charles make, from maintaining the village motorbike to turning in a “Karma card” to get a haircut is part of a new society of sharing. However, Deb still wonders about her purpose in this new present: “Was writing as an art form completely passé? Dream mail was a common way to share ideas now.” When a wild boar runs up to Deb one day, seeking her company, she begins on a deeper quest not only to understand her role in this new world, but to fully understand herself.
Written with great imaginative detail and surprisingly evocative and complex adult backstories, THE LITERATURE PREFERRED BY WILD BOAR is an original and thoughtful work. Like a kind of mellow, peace-loving Margaret Atwood, Eckles takes on a possible future and explores the juncture of a collapsed society and a freshly invigorated natural environment. She also explores the critical questions that shape all of our lives and that can never entirely be answered: Who are we? Who are we now? And who will we be in the future?
The novel does have some faults. At times the prose can be a little clunky and heavy on the exposition. Other times it becomes so coiled around its own mystery as to be impenetrable.
With a gradually unveiling storytelling style and a knack for nuance and well-picked detail, Eckles creates an involving and ultimately powerful story of personal exploration and societal growth.