I know, it’s a cliché. William Golding’s classic tale of ‘a pack of British boys’ marooned on an uninhabited island has sold about a ger-zillion copies since it was first published, and not only is it a book that everyone – and I mean, everyone – has heard of, but they were probably made to study it at some stage because it is pretty much THE set text in schools and universities.
But my wanting to have written it has less to do with copies sold (let’s pause to remember that, for the first few years, Lord of the Flies didn’t do very well) and far more to do with brilliance in understated writing.
Brilliance? No, it’s a masterclass. Like Cormack McCarthy’s The Road, it is simple in appearance, without the fuss and clutter of ‘show-ey off-ey’ language. But those who write will know that simplicity is incredibly hard to produce – or, rather, to pull off.
With Lord of the Flies, Golding produced an amazingly, deceptively powerful book of deeply powerful emotions – through utterly real characters and scarily accurate scenarios. No fancy words, no dreary scene setting over pages and pages. Golding delivers stomach punches through single sentences (and he does, over and over), and that, to me, is the true goal of great creativity.
I will never tire of Lord of the Flies. The title alone has my heart pounding. Bravo (he says cheerily through gritted teeth).
Lord of the Flies (978-0-5711-9147-5) by William Golding is published by Faber &and Faber, £8.99.
Jason Wallace’s new book, Encounters (978-1-7834-4528-8) is published by Andersen Press,