A Cruel Man Delighting in Flowers

...the mildness to which men ... had yielded was only half of the intoxication of beauty, while the other half ... was of such surpassing and terrible cruelty—the most cruel of men delights himself with a flower—that beauty ... failed quickly of its effect... 

Hermann BrochThe Death of Virgil


Jeremy Davies is made of ink, but don’t dip a feather in him. It tickles. He once painted a fingernail black and no one really noticed. He was disappointed. He’s also an editor, a religious atheist, a liker of strong coffees, a Shakespeare-lover, a political anarchist and someone who rarely has a pen when he needs one. He has been a PhD candidate, a personal trainer, a life model, a bouncer, an infantry soldier and someone who rarely had a pen when he needed one. He has had words published in a variety of places, in a variety of publications, in a variety of forms, in a variety of moments: Canada, Wet Ink, SMS and twelve minutes past three in the afternoon being some of these. His first novel, 'Missing Presumed Undead', will be re-published by Satalyte Publishing in February 2014. A second is on its way.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz While many modern novels use similar narrative techniques, very few do so to such powerful effect. Through a range of structural devices, narrative focus, voice, and pure pathos, Diaz manages to really overpower your senses. I admit to having played maybe three quarters of the role playing games Oscar does (at least I had sports as well...) and there are many interesting cultural collisions that Diaz develops throughout the novel, such as between muy macho streetwise Dominican brutality with dungeons and dragons, Tolkein and fantastic four. This, to go along with strong, well-layered character development and a constant feeling of imminent doom thoroughout: a product, maybe, of the many prolepsis peppered throughout the story (something that would normally annoy me, but, Diaz , through his development of the sound of the narration, manages to make it work and work masterfully. I was kinda set to give it four stars, but the finale convinced me to give it another half. You will see what I mean: it is both beautiful without being hackneyed.

(Much has been said elsewhere of the DR historical footnotes and the pepperings of DR Spanish. I found neither of these things a problem. Why? a) I enjoy history, and the footnotes are not dry, but remian in the narrator's very conversational voice; b) despite my very limited Spanish skills, I could kinda work out the intent, and it's the sound of it that really counts, the desgination of a moment. There is a website with all the translations and various Domincanos arguing over the finer points of meaning. I did end up looking up the famous phrase Trujillo's assassin utters before finishing him off...)

Currently reading

Lyrical and Critical Essays
Albert Camus
The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages
Harold Bloom
The Rebel (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
Albert Camus