Vintage news: ‘Never Have I Lived in the Black’

Death falls like the long, long shadow. Maybe. But the thought of my walk to the grave subjecting myself to a walk in a pool of impenetrable darkness … I’ll take not having to…

Vintage news: ‘Never Have I Lived in the Black’

Death falls like the long, long shadow. Maybe. But the thought of my walk to the grave subjecting myself to a walk in a pool of impenetrable darkness … I’ll take not having to be treated to a buffet of celebratory chocolates and Swarovski crystal lollipops any day of the week. So, having guessed that the above might scare you, it’s time to dive in to some other scary-sounding ideas and, in doing so, let me be sure you don’t take anything for granted: this week, on the TLS, it’s Ghostlight by Leslie Hooker (Bantam). “Never Have I Lived in the Black,” Hooker’s whodunit about life and death and walking-dead consciousness, begins with the line, “‘I cannot walk out in the light, in the sunshine, because I fear I shall die,’ declares the ghost of an old man.” Which is true. Black holes are all about the light and the darkness.

We read in 18th-century newspapers one of the more fascinating examples of an “extra-dimension” city. For example, the town of Pionnamon (now a town of 4000 in southern Japan), was “abundant in black-painted architecture, beginning with the blackened facades of its office buildings and continuing through its dark streets with their cobblestones left behind by visitors.” How can the black buildings live? Well, if you live at their center, there’s not much in the way of light, so they start drawing on their heat instead.

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