Monday, August 4, 2014

Book Review - Port Mungo by Patrick McGrath



British author Patrick McGrath is one of those authors who can honestly terrify me, which is saying a lot considering the stories that I write. His literary terror is wrapped in the modern world, complete with people and their problems who delve into their inner selves and realize that yes, it is not pretty. I was first introduced to McGrath's writing years ago when I read the book Asylum and I have been hooked on him ever since. Sadly through, it took me years to read Port Mungo yet when I began reading it, I knew I was in for another treat filled with madness, the poetic, the decadent and secrets.

Meet Gin Rathbone, dear sister to her brother Jack, an artist and the lover of much older artist, "wanton woman" and alcoholic Vera Savage. She loves her brother and adores him unconditionally, even when he runs off with Vera to New York City and finally Port Mungo in Honduras. They live the life of decadent artists, complete with alcohol, sex and paint and even manage to have two children - Peg and Anna. Yet, all is not paradise as Gin reveals to us just how far Jack goes down the rabbit hole and in making it worse, has no idea that he even committed such an act. The book is a carefully crafted mix of the erotic, the disturbing and, sadly enough, the sympathetic. We the readers can't help but watch Jack's downward spiral, leading to a secret that while is inevitable, still remains shocking.

McGrath, like my favourite author Ian McEwan, has mastered the art of the slow rise of trepidation and anxiety in his work, leaving us with wanting more yet wondering if we truly can handle it.

Thank you, Mr. McGrath, for the dark venture into Port Mungo.

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