‘The Sourwood (There Are No Gods For Arthropods)’ is a neat little book, the first in a series according to the author, Richard Wolanski, and one which literally takes you down to earth! A poor little mite by the name of Fig is the hero of a book which is devoid of humans. According to the story, humans disappeared sometime in the past probably as a result of their own misdemeanours which left the insects to survive in a world of their own. Living in the environment of a large fruit tree, they go about their short lives unencumbered by the questions which bugged humanity through its long and sordid history, considering only the acts of eating and reproduction as the objectives of their existence.
Fig, with his friends, Doyle and Oz, get into a lot of trouble when trying to secure a tangerine. This was to be an offering for one of the other insects, Poma, his six-legged female friend, but in doing so they end up in the realms of ants, a dragonfly and a bumblebee. Plus a hoard of other crawly creatures! At first glance, you would think this to be a children’s story but the language and plots and too satirical in nature for this age group. It was a little confusing to some extent when more and more insects were introduced and the story did become a parody of human action, however the writing was of a high standard, delivered in an intelligent way which kept my attention throughout.
Things begin to change when they meet up with the Fly King. Questions are asked about mortality and the hereafter, questions which essentially mean nothing to Fig who has such an insignificant little life that he is more concerned about his immediate survival than anything else. It’s a Garden of Eden and once the Apple has been eaten, then the trouble starts. In Richard Wolanski’s book, the difference between insects and humans is not all that great because compared to the vast universe of billions of galaxies, we are essentially the same size and of the same significance. It’s also true that when pitted against the paradoxical questions which terrify our lives, we are not much better than the bugs!
You begin reading this as a cute little tale about funny little insects and then get to the last page only to squirm, not about creepy crawlies running over your body but about the same brick wall that Fig comes against when trying to make his way in the world. Fig’s lifespan was only measured in days while we can think about 70 years or more as a good innings but what’s this against billions of years of time and evolution?
I wasn’t sure about this book when I started reading it but it was well-meaning and well-written and by the end I was giving it the thumbs up. Not bad at all and well worth reading. Recommended!
(pub: Dutch Ray Press. 55 page 561kb Kindle edition. ASIN: B00HS27O5M)