Where Shall We Run To?
From one of our greatest living writers, comes a remarkable memoir of a forgotten England.
'The war went. We sang in the playground, Bikini lagoon, an atom bomb’s boom, and two big explosions. David’s father came back from Burma and didn’t eat rice. Twiggy taught by reciting The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Charge of the Light Brigade and the thirteen times table. Twiggy was fat and short and he shouted, and his neck was as wide as his head. He was a bully, though he didn’t take any notice of me.’
In Where Shall We Run To?, Alan Garner remembers his early childhood in the Cheshire village of Alderley Edge: life at the village school as a sissy and a mardy-arse'; pushing his friend Harold into a clump of nettles to test the truth of dock leaves; his father joining the army to guard the family against Hitler; the coming of the Yanks, with their comics and sweets and chewing gum. From one of our greatest living writers, it is a remarkable and evocative memoir of a vanished England.
Its encounters are vivid and immediate, but it is also an examination of class and change in the England of those years
A moving evocation of his wartime childhood.
Where Shall We Run To?, as its title hints, is not a memoir that begins at the beginning and goes on until it comes to the end... it meanders from subject to subject, story to story, Garner’s book accurately reflects the randomness of memory.
In this slight but charming memoir about his wartime
childhood in Alderley Edge, Garner [makes] the Cheshire landscape feel fresh, while bringing a new perspective to a tried and tested literary form.
Every street, every house, every carved stone, mysterious well, dark pond and perilously steep cliff-edge is remembered and described, as Garner roams through it, with a succession of companions…. Garner’s detailed recall of so many characters and events is extraordinary.
The "vanished England" evoked with such extraordinary clarity is not a purely idyllic one - there are harms to be suffered and monsters avoided ... Together [the vignettes] work the book's chief literary magic, forging out of its succession of memories a bright interlinked chain.Imogen Russell Williams, Times Literary Supplement
His narrative is lyrical and clear-eyed in turn, full not just of dappled sunlight on five-bar gates and bomb shelters but also of the social apartheid bought about by the well-meaning 1944 Education Act.Kathryn Hughes, Guardian