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The Crack Magazine

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The Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin Myers

As a confirmed city dweller, I’m quite often overwhelmed in the countryside. Overwhelmed in parts of Devon where huge hedges and foliage blot out the modern world, to the extent that Tess Durbeyfield might appear in the next field. Or in a thicket of trees, sunlight cutting through the branches, Robin Hood or someone like him disappearing ahead, a flash of Sherwood Green imprinted on my retina. It’s this spirit that Benjamin Myers evokes beautifully in The Perfect Golden Circle as two unlikely male friends, Redbone and Calvert, work their way into the fields of Albion creating elaborate and mysterious crop circles as they go. Set in the late eighties theirs is an artistic vision that becomes mixed up with talk of paranormal activity, ‘peace convoys’, raves and a disputed version and vision of England’s fields and natural world. The strands of a certain kind of English radicalism conveniently buried, “England pulls him in, and under. He feels its radicles reaching down into the bedrock of a place he loves as much as he hates and hates as much as he loves.” Difficult to access, but is explored here as The Perfect Golden Circle subtly ventures backwards to bring some questions forwards. Who owns this land, and why? (“The rich long ago decided they were going to carve up the country and God forbid any of the rest of us tread on it.”) What’s our relationship to the natural world? Do we have one? What’s been lost along the way? Have we lost too much? And Redbone and Calvert? “In the flames, in the roaring heat, Redbone sees something. His future. It is one step removed from being recognisable. It is scorched black. He is someone else there, and the sun is slowly dying. No birds sing.” But for the time being these gentle men, in a protective circle of readers, are on this journey until the end. Some have said this book is, excuse me, ‘a holiday read’. It could be if that’s your thing, but, for me, this is a book for anytime, for every time, for all time. Totally recommended.

The Perfect Golden Circle – by Benjamin Myers - publ. Bloomsbury - £8.99

Steven Long