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06 July 2013 @ 02:11 pm
Book Review: The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf  
This book should really come with a warning of intense gruesome violence, depraved sexual activities, and the author's overuse of Capitalization as was the 18th century Style he has written this Book in.


The year is 1751 and our "hero" is Tristan Hart. Mr. Hart is a young man of means and talent. He has a good brain for the sciences and has aspirations to study medicine. His skills land him a position to study under Dr. William Hunter of London where Tristan begins to hone his understanding of anatomy. Tristan, a philosopher in many ways is interested in man's relationship to pain as well as where the soul lies between the matter and the mind. He is committed to understanding the human condition through science and using logic to dissipate superstition.

Tristan is also completely INSANE. And when I say "insane" I really mean completely and utterly deviant, raving, crazy.

There's really no other way to put it as Tristan for all his intellectual gifts also possess a side that is obsessed with inflicting pain on others and gaining most of his excitement (sexual and otherwise) through physically torturing people. He's a rapist and a sadist with traces of pedophilia, mixed with a complete lack of understanding of just how mad he really is. He is a genius with high intellectual and philosophical goals but he's also a slave to his own base, perverse desires.

I'd read reviews of this book where people compared Tristan to either Patrick Bateman of American Psycho or Jean-Baptiste Grenouille of Perfume. Neither comparison feels very accurate as Tristan is really a difficult character all on his own. Unlike Bateman he at least aspires for something above the material and one only wishes he was as humane as Grenouille. Yeah, that's right. Tristan makes Grenouille's serial murders look humane compared to some of the shit he pulls. Unsurprisingly, Tristan is a difficult character to like, a trait he shares with most of the characters in this dense novel. At the same time, I couldn't stop reading the book.

This is one of those novels where you have to just let wash over you and go with the flow. It's very calculated, affected narrative style, while initially distracting (so...many...capitalizations...) eventually helps you settle in for this gory, gory ride. It's definitely not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. For anyone who picks up this book thinking it's some sort of supernatural tale with the main character's actions being directed by actual demons, you will be disappointed. It's an intense look at the world through someone with psychosis which can be fascinating as it is deeply disturbing. I would say that the book could have been a bit shorter as after awhile a lot of Tristan's musings became repetitive. But for all its sadistic content, this book is rather original which does count for something.
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