The Insult

Rupert Thomson, Author
Rupert Thomson, Author Knopf Publishing Group $24 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-44672-9
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-679-78150-9
Hardcover - 978-0-517-26778-3
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-7475-7462-0
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Thomson (Air and Fire) can certainly write up a storm. The young English novelist has a remarkable bag of tricks at his disposal, with a tinglingly fresh eye and ear for the most fleeting of sights and sounds and a dashing way with metaphor and imagery. At first, it looks as if his tale of Martin Blom, a young man in an unnamed country who is shot in the head one night and blinded, is going to be a sort of contemporary Kafka vision. Blom is treated in a strange institution by a sinister doctor. Then he finds he can see again, but only at night; fleeing to a dour capital city, he begins to organize his lonely life around that fact. It is when Blom meets and falls for the mysterious Nina, and she disappears, that The Insult begins to go off the rails. What had been an absorbingly macabre study in solitude veers, in its second half, into a histrionic family history of Nina that seems only steps away from Cold Comfort Farm. After that, it is impossible to rekindle the intense interest Thomson had originally ignited in Martin's story, and the book, for all its incandescent writing and malign urban atmosphere, peters out glumly. (Aug.)
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