I’ll start this review by stating that ever since I read I, Lucifer I have been a fan of Glen Duncan. And this book has not changed my opinion one bit.
This is a book that deals with issues of good and evil, and of what it is to be evil.
It is the life story of Dominic Hood, the story alternating between his childhood, his past and the present. As a child he witnesses a miracle, or at least what he sees as the aftermath of a miracle but as he grows up he is constantly drawn to the darker side of life.
As with the other Duncan novels I have read Catholicism is a vital part of the characters (maybe less so in the case of I, Lucifer), and as with Love Remains it is through the protagonist’s relationships with others that the story takes place.
It is Duncan’s writing that drew me into this book, more so than the story of Dominic, but as the plot progressed I grew fonder of him, despite his actions. And I think that is one of the great aspects of this book; Hood is such a likeable character yet at the same time his darkness is constantly growing. Often tender and hateful at the same time.
In a way I would say that this is a part of the magic realism genre. After all miracles and ghosts seem to be part and parcel of the world. But they aren’t quite accepted as part of the world as they would be were it a Marquez story. Maybe a sub-genre of English magic-realism? I don’t know, I’m not great at labeling things away.
Duncan disturbs the reader, but yet it is full of humour as well, and of truth. And it is in his writing that Duncan excells, sometimes the words he uses are so unusual, and formal that from a lesser writer they would seem stilted, here they flow.
the first brain-bashing drag – and the knowledge despite all immediate sensory drag (searing pain in the bronchioles, one ferocious wheeze) that smoking was right up my street.(pg 62)
But as terms passed and hormones twitched the defence showed signs of strain. Adolescence, mongrel-like, went about its business. Pustules rioted. Boys hitherto thought negligible specimens evolved into baritone giants, scals oozing grease, faces basterially aflame, penises (showers after games) transformed from the bald shrimps of childhood into pubesence’s hairy king prawns. The girls stopped being girls and became – treacherously – girls. They had breasts, over which they kept their arms folded. Hips arrived. Skirts climbed. Earrings, nail varnish, lip gloss. (pg 66)
We live in a mitigating world. Not much room for freely chosen evil between the devil of nurture and nature’s deep blue sea (pg 235)
“Because” she continued, with a hand placed lightly on my belly, “it’s sometimes an act of contempt from you, having sex with me. Not just you. Men. An act of disgust. Of hatred.” (pg 293)