If you are a fan of John Kinsella’s you will love this convoluted and yet somehow addictive tale of Hollow Earth, written as a protest to the destruction caused as we, the so called learned, high IQ race of peoples, go about destroying what was once a far more pristine and beautiful place called earth.
From a very young age Manfred has been fascinated by what he considers is another world that can be accessed by tunnels or through a sophisticated cave system, somewhere on the earth. Set initially in Western Australia, the story moves about the world where as an adult, Manfred finally discovers a Neolithic copper mine in Schull, Ireland which holds the key, the entrance, to a place he refers to as Hollow Earth, an almost nirvana like place that he has always believed truly existed.
Granted entry to this world he is amazed at the acceptance of religious and cultural differences, a civilization where they have no war, where they treasure the land, but while not a perfect civilisation, is tolerant and accepting, Manfred begins to see that what is in Hollow Earth is far better, richer than anything in the world in which he lives, the surface world.
He eventually encourages Ari and Zest, two of the androgynous Hollow Earthers to return to the surface with him and is not long before they too fall deeply into the temptations offered. At times funny, sad, reflective and scary with tones of times long past, the pages are vivid in their portrayal of what, or who, we as a race of peoples have become!
As the work evolves it is not possible to ignore the parable that is unfolding, based on the wanton destruction and greed of modern-day life, and a very real crisis that is unfolding environmentally on a daily basis.
Perhaps better known as a poet, Kinsella has in parts used a stark brevity of language to illustrate a point as at 127, when he looks annihilation and what it means: ‘Annihilation. No equivalent of that word exists in the human or animal languages of Hollow Earth.’ A point with which it is particularly hard to disagree.
Fascinating, and as with Kinsella works, a book which needs to be taken in small doses, considering the energetic shifting of places, times, events, emotions and the slow destruction of Ari and Zest, as they are seduced further into the tragedy of modern life, Hollow Earth needs to be supped slowly to better understand Kinsella’s platform.
Hollow Earth is a work that while abstract in form is compelling, a work which, in a subtle manner contains a wild beauty, a furious cry of rage, drawing to attention to the wanton destruction of earth and the very real, transparent greed that underlies society as they demand more and more riches.
Billed as a science fiction work, it is also a very inciteful look at who we are as a human race, a race of people who accept what is told without question, that have become intolerant, greedy and uncaring of the richness of the earth on which we all live.