Children of Darkness and Light

Nicholas Mosley, Author Dalkey Archive Press $13.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-56478-151-2
""If we are to survive in the environment we have made for ourselves, may we have to be monstrous enough to greet our predicament?"" The opening sentence of Mosley's Whitbread Award winner Hopeful Monsters is just as applicable to this alternately apocalyptic and redemptive novel. There are differences between the two books (aside from being shorter by half): the ""hopeful monsters"" here are children who have been exposed to radiation (intentionally and not), and Mosley replaces the earlier novel's gamut of Western philosophy with one religious, primarily Catholic, faith. Harry, an alcoholic journalist with family problems, once reported on the appearance of the Virgin Mary to children in wartorn former Yugoslavia. Now, several years later, his editor sends him to cover a commune of children in Cumbria who claim to have been instructed by another vision of Mary. On arriving, Harry begins to discover other connections: Gaby, the children's leader, is from Yugoslavia; there is a faulty nuclear reprocessing plant nearby that calls to mind the black-market trade in nuclear material he witnessed during his visit to Eastern Europe. Could it be, he begins to wonder, that these exposed children have mutated not into something horrifying but something new and wonderful? As ever, Mosley requires close reading. The dialogue is his usual Beckett-like loose interweaving of uncompleted thoughts and crossed conversations, and Mosley packs the pages with latent connections, ideas and references, particularly Christian--a fisherman named Peter, for example; or Gaby and her accompanying identical triplets (the BVM and the three-who-are-one?). ""No one puts new wine in old wineskins,"" Christ says in Mark. The creation of a new vessel for a new spirit is the essential message of this brilliant novel of devastation and hope. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/30/1997
Release date: 07/01/1997
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