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from Renée's Reviews



Beyond Black

by Hilary Mantel

"The thing that frightens me most is the confiscation of history. If you don't own the past, you can't speak up for it, your past can be stolen and falsified, it can be changed behind you. I am interested in the way people remember, and just as interested in the way they wonąt remember."

The above is a quote from the author about her own work and it serves as well as anything I could say about the book: a book about Alison, a medium by trade who is almost strangled by her own horrible, frightening, devastating and cruel past.

Alison has an assistant Colette and a large gallery of ghosts, specters, previous lives who inhabit her space at all time. Someone said the author is a master of ugliness. She hates the cheap kitsch of this world, she fights the false, the trivial, the pretentions that surround us.

The quality of the writing is brilliant, almost breathtaking in its capacity to ridicule, to condemn, to produce fear and trembling in the reader. "Violence hung in the air, like the smell of explosive. Birds had flown. Foxes had abandoned their lairs. The bones of mice and voles were mulched into mud, and she sensed the minute snapping of frail necks and the grinding into paste of muscle and fur. Through the soles of her shoes she felt gashed worms turning, twisting and repairing themselves."

We witness new construction of a housing development for the middle class.

The novel is brilliant. It is frighening, shocking in its detail, its observation, its condemnation of the meaninglessness of life.. "God loves us..He manifests it in cancer, cholera and siamese twins."

Beyond Black is always invaded by black humor. Do read it.

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