Body & Blood

Philip Russell, Author
Philip Russell, Author BkMk Press of the University of Missouri-Kans $14.95 (220p) ISBN 978-1-886157-15-6
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Settling down in a New Age community in Vermont, two young, damaged people--Matt and Alice--make a series of things that never ""come 'round right"": their house, their marriage, their child, even their wedding rings. This perpetual incompleteness serves Russell as a master metaphor in this grainy depiction of a failing marriage. Unfortunately, an incapacity to finish and draw things together also plagues his debut novel. Using interior monologues to probe the loneliness of his protagonists, Russell reveals rural childhoods scarred by abuse or neglect and adult relationships founded on desperation and resentment. But even though he ably shows us the pain that his characters suffer, Russell is unable to view them with irony or forgiveness, or to inspire hope that they might find a way to connect with other people. As a result, Matt and Alice are shallow and unattractive. The neediness that erodes their marriage overmasters the novel itself, while an uneven tone (which careens from magical realism to blank minimalism) undermines our faith in this bleak, unedifying tale. (July)
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