The Bestowing Sun
ISBN: 9781780363059, Peach Publishing, an e-book by Neil Grimmett.
Plot/Characters: This is a story set in a small village and surrounding farm land in Somerset, England. Brothers Richard, powerfully built and gross in actions, loves the land and follows in his father’s footsteps to continue the mundane existence while William has a frailer frame, interests, activities and ‘soul’ of an artist and is married with a daughter, but it becomes unraveled. The father, Herbie, is an enigmatic individual with traits somewhat unusual for a farmer and totally enchanted by his wife Madeline, a still quite refined and beautiful woman. Richard marries Selina, the town’s beautiful, sexy, but ‘loose’ woman, she becomes pregnant, aborts the baby and divorces to move to Europe. Richard remarries Anne and they have three children. Meanwhile, William has seen Selina and recognizes in her the perfect model and one with ‘an inner soul’ which he can equate, and having also moved to Europe to study art meets her there. The plot revolves around the triangle of the two brothers and Selina and their interaction as well as with a number of ancillary but relevant characters to move to a quite understandable termination.
Discussion: Unfortunately, a discussion of this book can only follow a conclusion which will provide a very distinctly dichotomous appeal. Pragmatists will believe they are reading a somewhat rambling and perhaps even confusingly unstructured story about jealousy, its activity and ensuing results within a family and their small town acquaintances. HOWEVER, the reader who will look more closely at the characters as they wend their way through the plot will discover a quite fascinating metaphysical presentation encompassing the total meaning of the word. Specifically: metaphysics is defined as “a division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being” and that includes ontology which is defined as: “a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being or the kinds of things that have existence” – in other words ‘a study of what is outside of, or not usually observed in or during, objective experience’. As the reader witnesses the changing thought and action patterns of each character as he/she continues to mature with advancing time and experiences an entirely new picture evolves that is quite revealing.
Conclusion: Having read and enjoyed some of the author’s earlier books, this reviewer is fascinated at the new direction (growth?) the author has exhibited. A hint of this change appeared in The Mud Dance, but it has been most prominently exhibited in this volume. It indeed is unfortunate that there will be no more of this ‘new’ Neil Grimmett.
3* 5* captivating metaphysical novel; 3* regrettable caveat for more pragmatic readers.
The Mud Dance
ISBN: 0781780363042, Peach Publishing, an e-book by Neil Grimmett.
Plot/Characters: The setting is the ‘Rock & Roll’ era of the ’70’s. The story is centered upon Kenny whose family, in an attempt to save a marriage that was beyond saving, moved from Birmingham to a Somerset coastal village. He is brought along with vehement objections because it is his senior school year and will tear him from his familiar environment and friends. Further shock occurs when he discovers he is far removed from the structured formality to which he is accustomed, to a very lax one peopled with students who “grunted in thick slurring accents linked with a strange, archaic grammar” and non-formerly robed faculty who have difficulty exerting authority. He does meet one boy, Larry, who is different, from an apparently wealthy family but one also with mother/father problems. He establishes a strong bond with him that lasts for a lifetime. Kenny is a jazz drummer and Larry, trained as a classic pianist is desirous of playing contemporary music. They graduate, form their first band, gain a certain amount of local success and expand and the tale continues with a recounting of their attempt to gain that intangible pinnacle of success that combines both personal satisfaction with strong monetary compensation. They obtain contracts to record and perform in prestigious national/international venues and gradually move through the years with a changing personal relationship that leads to a somewhat dismal termination.
Discussion/Conclusion: The author appears to have provided as graphic a picture possible of the periods of success and defeat of a modern musician’s life and has centered their activity in the frenetic ‘Rock & Roll Era’. All is provided by apt descriptions of the often hidden, but at times explosive hostile and/or jealous, ego conflicts among band members, the highs followed most often by post-performance lows, the need for ‘pick-up’ drugs, the sexual excesses, the groupies, the unnatural ‘work’ hours and the host of other distractions to a ‘normal’ life. No doubt the author best, and beautifully, describes the basis for his story with his description of: “why musicians don’t dance – Dancing kills the ego. Like those whirling dervishes. Round and round they go into a state of beautiful, open, naked vulnerability, destroying the only bearing between their spirit and God until they are liberated. We were doing the opposite, laboring to close ourselves in, ensnared by vanities and false pride until nothing – musically or mentally –had any chance of escape. Dancing our dance – The Mud Dance”. Thus, perhaps most compellingly, the story describes the formation of a strong but unhealthy bonding between talented but highly flawed individuals and its slow dissolution as it moves toward its depressing inevitability.
3* 5* Rivetingly provided character study; 3* depressing read for this reviewer.