The World More Full of Weeping
Robert J Wiersema
ChiZine Publications, 2009
The World More Full of Weeping, its title unabashedly ripped from the W. B. Yeats poem, “The Stolen Child” is a new novella (almost a short story) by author Robert J. Wiersema. ChiZine Publications is a relative newcomer to the publisher scene but as the print arm of the Chiarscuro ‘zine brings with it a wealth of experience and talent. Wiersema’s debut novel Before I Wake achieved quite a bit of buzz on its release but slipped beneath my radar but, having read the chilling tale that is The World More Full of Weeping I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out on whatever Wiersema plans in the future.
Here’s ChiZine’s description of the novel:
Eleven-year-old Brian Page spends every waking moment in the forest behind the house where he lives with his father. But forests are always deeper than anyone can know. Secrets are hidden in the eternal twilight of the trees. Those secrets emerge into light when Brian disappears in the forest, as his father did three decades before. His father, however, came home with no memory of the events in the depths of the forest. What has drawn Brian away? Will he emerge, shuddering and broken, as his father did, or will the forests close around him, as they have done so often before?
I should perhaps confess that one of the pieces of horror/supernatural fiction that most-influenced me as a reader is H. P. Lovecraft’s The Silver Key. It is one of Lovecraft’s few stories (that I can remember anyway) that features some rather brilliant descriptions of a natural setting. Passages such as:
Then, when he was free, he felt in his blouse pocket for the key; and being reassured, skipped off across the orchard to the rise beyond, where the wooded hill climbed again to heights above even the treeless knoll. The floor of the forest was mossy and mysterious, and great lichened rocks rose vaguely here and there in the dim light like Druid monoliths among the swollen and twisted trunks of a sacred grove. Once in his ascent Randolph crossed a rushing stream whose falls a little way off sang runic incantations to the lurking fauns and aegipans and dryads.
Are just one amongst many that managed, for me at least, to help recapture the wonder and mystery of the forest. Later I went on and read Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood which for me cast the forest in a slightly more antediluvian light and, like Lovecraft’s The Silver Key, manages to link the forest to dreams. Both works left their mark on me as a reader and one might argue my enjoyment of The World More Full of Weeping is deeply influenced by own personal experiences with fictional forests (and perhaps growing up in suburban New Jersey never having had a ‘real’ forest/back-country to explore lends the deep forest a little mystique, though the Pine Barrens do cast a rather long shadow).
One of the first things that struck me about The World More Full of Weeping was the narrative structure that Wieresma uses. The novel starts in the present up until the point that Brian disappears when the narrative splits with sections following Brian’s early explorations into the forest alternating with the reactions of his parents and the search for their missing son. It is an interesting juxtaposition between the weight of emotion experienced by parents whose child is missing and the wonder and excitement of a child experiencing the magic of the woods and his first love. The temporal nature of the narrative, the literal narrative split between past a present, is I think further tied to Jeff Page’s missing memories of his own disappearance. The more Jeff is exposed to his own missing past the closer the two narrative threads come together. The point where past and present collide, Brian’s final journey into the forest and Jeff’s recollection of his own experiences in the woods, results in a startling explosion of emotion that despite the heavy events occurring up until that point, had more or less been lacking in the earlier portion of the novel.
There is a palpable weight to the final pages of the novel the shadow of which is only glimpsed during Brian’s mysterious explorations with the enigmatic Carly. The desperation of that final section left me with a mix of emotions that echo Jeff’s own sadness and longing. That strange is perhaps a result of the horror of a parent missing but more so I think the sudden revelation what is lost in the transition from childhood to adulthood; the sudden sense of bereavement due to the lost mystery of the hidden world and the stark reality of world without magic. Or maybe that last bit comes more from me then The World More Full of Weeping. When the dividing line between self and fiction blurs it is something that is truly wonderful and it is something that The World More Full of Weeping achieves in spades.
For a taste of The World More Full of Weeping please check out the sample chapter, with introduction by the author, over on the ChiZine webpage.