[Marxism] The Dying Light | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 13 07:30:09 MDT 2018

The name Tony McKenna might ring a bell with CounterPunch readers since 
he has written a number of very informative articles here over the 
years, the most recent being one on “Trump, Obama and the Nature of 
Fascism”. When I learned that he had written a novel titled “The Dying 
Light”, I requested a review copy since I was curious to see if his 
fiction chops were as strong as his nonfiction’s.

Speaking for myself, I entertained hopes of writing fiction after I left 
the Trotskyist movement in 1978. It was only after reading the chapter 
in Saul Bellow’s “Herzog”, where he describes the bathroom toiletries of 
Herzog’s former lover in intimate detail as a way of casting light on 
her psychologically, that I decided to stick to politics. If I lived to 
a thousand, I could not write as brilliantly as Bellow. By the same 
token, if he could have lived to a thousand, he would not be able to 
write anything but trash when it came to politics.

On one level, “The Dying Light” might be described as a historical novel 
since it is based on a little-known aspect of life in London in 1940, 
when many of its citizens began living in abandoned subway stations, or 
what they call the Tube, to protect themselves from German bombs. In a 
nod to the “Newsreels” of John Dos Passos’s great U.S.A. trilogy, 
McKenna includes an editorial from a faux newspaper called the 
Birchington Gazette:

	During the Blitz, when the bombing was at its most intense, hundreds of 
thousands of Londoners took shelter in the Underground. First realised 
as a temporary spontaneous measure, it was initially opposed by 
government who used the police to lock down tube stations. Nevertheless, 
large crowds pushed their w through, winning the right to occupy London 
subterranean levels.

	The occupation, however, swiftly grew something more than a temporary 
means of escaping bombs. Rather, it became a way of life. People set up 
home in the spaces beneath the city. The social research organisation 
Mass Observation describes how “for the first time in many hundreds of 
years…civilized families conducted the whole of their leisure and 
domestic lives in full view of each other. Most of these people were not 
merely sheltering in the tubes; they were living there.

Using this premise, McKenna tells the story of children who have taken 
over an abandoned station that a child named Georgie calls Ruritania. He 
has a very active imagination just like the author.

full: https://louisproyect.org/2018/07/13/the-dying-light/

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