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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The North Water: Could this really be McGuire's view?

Ian McGuire's story-telling ability is keeping me going with his novel The North Water, meaning I do, at least for now, want to know what's happening aboard the whaleboat the Volunteer en route to Greenland: the ship doctor, the central character though hardly the moral focus (we learn his back story in a grotesque chapter about his service in a hospital in India working on the grievously wounded soldiers - and about an abominable scheme he engages in to extort money from an Indian man seeking help for his wounded child) examines a cabin boy and finds that he's been sodomized. The boy won't divulge who attacked him, and at a later point the crew finds the boy's body stuffed in ballast barrel. So you can't not want to know who dunnit - but finding out will involved more episodes in this completely morally corrupt world - in which just about every character introduced is a horrible, cruel, selfish being, and in which every scene reeks w/ the stench of feces, vomit, dead creatures. I'm left pretty much where I was yesterday: There's something compelling about this story and there's no question that McGuire is a powerful writer and an avid researcher and historian, but this novel verges on the sensational and again I wonder why such a talented writer would create this world. Could this really represents McGuire's world view? If so, I pity him.

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