By Darran Anderson.
The woods have been strangely silent since the temperature dropped. A week of electrical storms and sheer walls of rain advancing in from the sea [a note of recognition in rereading – Toni Kurz, die Mordwand, “Ich kann nicht mehr”] and then stillness, a curious unnatural stillness and the air a second from freezing before our eyes. A moth, made of dust and feathers, bounced around every angle in the room when I turned on the cabin light and scanned the rows of books for one to bring on the journey, besides a battered copy of Trakl that had accompanied me to the tropics. A black hardback with a funeral procession caught my eye. The Last Days of Mankind: Karl Kraus and His Vienna by Frank Field (1967). It looked so irredeemably grim I knew I would be compelled to take it, whether I wanted to or not.