The Book and the Brotherhood
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I've also decided since I'm only halfway that it will be my October IM as well. The big question I'm facing, in fact, is whether to continue my IM reading as intensely in 2014. If only all my issues were of that ilk, however!
Lyzzy, I'm afraid the ultimate parrot is in DFW's The Broom of the System. Truly. He's a major character and becomes an evangelist tv star and well, he's beyond awesome.
There have, however, been some amazing IM moments in the midst of the menacing storm - Lily suddenly skating beautifully and surprising herself and everyone, the Guy Fawkes party at Gerard's - she perfectly captures the ritualistic imperatives and vicissitudes of an annual party, Gulliver's interlude in the train station, and of course, Jean's altered state as she tries and fails to do as Crimond asks.....
The amount of 'not-telling' that goes on sometimes achieves the unbelievable - all the misery in the story flows from things not said, not told .....
Along with dread I'm also feeling a bit bad-tempered about what is coming. I've no patience any more with male rivalry over 'a woman' and the need for revenge and one-up and all that. I'd be interested to know what Iris herself made of such stuff - human nature, I suppose, she would have said. Inevitable, unavoidable.
No more sympathy, not one iota for Crimond, who is clearly a sociopath. IM does illustrate the power that the sociopathic focus and ruthlessness can have over the rest of us.
As you can see, I've rated B&B highly - what follows may sound contradictory, but it isn't: B&B is in some ways the most difficult of Murdoch's books that I've yet tackled - the only one that comes close was THE SEA, THE SEA which was my first Murdoch, back in December last year. B&B features a group of aging friends from college days. Specifically several of them formed a group to support David Crimond the one among them considered the most brilliant (but also poor) while he writes an 'important book.' Thirty and some odd years have gone by and the book is not yet done, Crimond is never asked about it, is understood to be working on it. During that time various things have happened, important people have died, a terrible affair between Crimond and one of the 'brotherhood's married members, Jean, married to Duncan, also part of the group. The book opens at a dance at Oxford, a summer ball, (there are some odd echoes of Shakespeare throughout) where people wander about, lose and find each other, but the most critical event is that Jean and Crimond after, say, a fifteen or twenty year period, get back together. This sets in train event after event, and each character plays a part and subsequently wonders if they caused all the trouble that ensues. By the third quarter of the book all friendships appear to be unraveling, terrible events take place, despair possesses pretty much everyone but the bloody-minded happy few. Crimond forms a 'mysterious' magnetic center to the book, as mysterious and unknowable in his brilliance (it is implied) as a man like Jesus Christ. Murdoch has hinted this before that there are people out there, generally men (at least I haven't yet encountered a Murdochian woman with these traits) who are catalysts, who draw change in their wake. They are irresistible to men and women alike and despite their dangerousness, are exhilarating and wonderful people to be around - you cannot like Crimond, you can only love him, admire him - or hate him with murderous passion. These magnetic characters, featured in the bleaker Murdoch novels, make for dark and sometimes difficult but always rewarding reading. Murdoch can present a brilliant person convincingly, as well as a lot of very intelligent and thoughtful and complex people, which is more than most writers can do. It makes for uncomfortable but rewarding reading. ****1/2
Oddly enough, Mr LB has read The Sea, The Sea and Book and the Brotherhood, loved the first, hated the second!