I'll almost certainly have more to say about Wyndham in the coming months, as I work my way through the rest of his novels. For now, I simply want to share a great pasage from The Kraken Wakes. Whereas The Day of the Triffids is unrelenting in its tension, and The Midwich Cuckoos, though a bit more restrained, also rarely shifts its narrative attention from the creepy children at its core, The Kraken Wakes reads more like Wyndham's attempt to transplant Nick and Nora Charles into a particularly sharp episode of Lights Out. The couple who are its center are writers for the EBC, a commercial cousin of the BBC, and their comfortable banter offers considerable leaven to the slowly accumulating horrors of the first half of the novel.
This particular passage follows the late night-arrival of a couple of visiting friends, a husband and wife, and it shares the dry wit for which I praised Wyndham's prose earlier in the week--but with the addition of some finely honed thoughts about friendship and marriage, and a perfectly phrased observation to close it:
Wondering why one's friends chose to marry the people they did is unprofitable, but recurrent. One could so often have done so much better for them. For instance, I could think of three girls who would have been better for Harold, in their different ways; one would have pushed him, another would have looked after him, the third would have amused him. It is true that they were none of them quite as decorative as Tuny, but that's not--well, it's something like the difference between the room you live in and the one at the Ideal Home Exhibition. However, there it was, and, as Phyllis said, a girl who makes good with a name like Petunia must at least have something her parents didn't have.Do you see why Wyndham has succeeded in enchanting me?