Friday, July 18, 2008

Experiment: The Resurrectionist by Jack O'Connell, part 4, the end.

This is an experiment in commenting on a book while I'm reading it.
Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.
Part 3 is here.

Progress: Finished 103 - 304.


I have fallen victim to yet another literary novel, and I even knew it when it was happening. It's the same feeling as waking up (when you're single) and suddenly realizing there's someone in bed with you, and your memory informs you you've done a drunken hookup - again. You can't blame the beer.

It turns out the comics are not the boy's dreams. (Spoiler below.)

It turns out everything is shite in the world of the novel.

It turns out that a gang of sociopathic bikers are the key to salvation.

It turns out (again) that literary novels can only end in tragedy.

The one truly positive thing I can say about this novel is the characterizations are very good. If the author could now put together a boss plot, grow a bit of a sense of humor, and not fall for the illusion of cynicism*, he'd be awesome. Let's hope, shall we?

*"To be cynical is not the same as avoiding illusion, for cynicism is just another kind of illusion. All formulas for meeting life - even many philosophies - are illusion. Cynicism is a trashy illusion."
- Robertson Davies, from The Manticore

Verdict on experiment: Meh. I think it's better to wait and review it all at once.



It turns out that the comics are what caused the accident that put the boy in a coma, which led to the suicide of the mother/wife. The boy gets to the end of the very last comic and all the freaks are miraculously healed except for the lead freak "Chicken Boy". Then the author of the comic ends the book with a quote informing the reader that not all stories have a happy ending.

The boy flips out and starts tearing up the comics, then moves on to tearing up his room (anything to do with the comics - the sheets, the wallpaper, etc.), then he smashes the mirror in his parent's room. When he's just tearing up his room the mother tries to intervene, and the boy slaps her and runs away. After he smashes the mirror, she tries to grab him and he punches her across the face. Out of rage and fear, she jabs him back with an uppercut that knocks him down the stairs where he lands at the bottom with the head injury that puts him in the coma.

Of course, mom kills herself out of guilt.

During a drug trip with a mixture that includes the boy's cranial fluid (long story), the father has a post-coma conversation with the son and discovers that the boy wasn't angry about Chicken Boy dying, as everyone assumed, but was angry that the other freaks were healed, and thus were not themselves anymore.

See, the whole point of the book is that the boy should not wake up from the coma, because when he does he will no longer be who he was (paralleling the healed freaks), and is better off as a vegetable. (Which is how it does end - the father and the bikers steal the boy so he cannot be revived, or "resurrected").

Typically when I get to the end of a book that pisses me off, much like the coma boy, I toss the sucker across the room. However, the book is the library's property, not mine, so I will have to placate myself with a snarky post-it note hidden in the book to warn off the next victim.

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