Gob’s Grief (by Chris Adrian)

Chris Adrian’s qualifications in literature, medicine and divinity and he doesn’t avoid the big issues.  His first novel, Gob’s* Grief is not as fabulous as his second, the magnificent, The Children’s Hospital, but it is still gob-stopping.  TVC were put off of the book by its apparent subject – the American Civil War. But, although the war is a bloody, reeking presence in the book, the novel is about much more than that. Adrian’s obsessions – lost brothers, angels, the mind-body fusion are all stirred together in an unholy alchemy in this story of the terrible grief of the bereaved, the attempt to fuse nature and mechanics, mortality and the afterlife. Real life characters Walt Whitman (whose sainted memory is not spared), Dr Oetker, Victoria Woodhull and John Wilkes Booth walk the pages, in wildly imaginative gaits. The ghastly Pickie Beecher, who will be imprinted on the memories of those who have read The Children’s Hospital, is ‘born’ in this novel, as is his ‘brother’.  This is a book for those who can read Flannery’s Wise Blood or Catling’s The Vorrh or Saunder’s Lincoln in the Bardo without shuddering too much. This is not a book for those who can’t read about fetuses, dismemberment, madness, or kilts made from the fingers of children. But if you can handle those things, the truth is that the truth is ineffable and so is Adrian’s wild, deft writing.

[*The issue of pronunciation of this name is never addressed.  Watch Arrested Development if you want some hints.]





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