Today, I would like to introduce a guest book reviewer, Zacharias O’Bryan, who is going to share his thoughts about Abrupt Edge by Angus Brownfield. Please take a moment to check out the book on Amazon HERE
ABRUPT EDGE, a novel by ANGUS BROWNFIELD
Reviewed by Zacharias O’Bryan
A merely good read has a way of carving the fat out of our thinking, allowing us to rediscover longtime truths we’ve always known. A great read, on the other hand, entices us to discover brand new truths. Abrupt Edge, recently released as an e-book by Angus Brownfield, accomplishes both.
As a literary genre, Abrupt Edge defies classification. E-book vendor sites (both Amazon.com and Smashwords.com), classify Abrupt Edge as “literary fiction.” Okay, but it could just as well be called a Thriller, a War Story, a Coming-of-Age Story, an Erotic Tale, a Feminist Tale, or a Parable. A partial list of themes would include: Freedom, Vengeance, Hubris, Marriage, Religion, Paradise, Hell, Womanhood, Manhood and Sex. I could go on… but after about three items, lists bore me. So let’s skip the classification…
… and move along to the set-up:
In a cultish religious compound in a fictitious corner of the Nevada desert there live two brothers. From childhood, both have wanted the most desirable female inhabiting their isolated world. She is intelligent, beautiful, graceful, and—like Helen of Troy—quite willing to tempt others toward violence.
The brothers quarrel, of course. Years pass. Both mature into powerful men: one a clone of their domineering father (an old-line polygamous Mormon patriarch), the other a chief executive of a very American pleasure palace: food, drink, fountains and sex. Only a wire fence divides one brother’s empire from the other.
The brothers know neither compromise nor forgiveness. They compete not only for limited water, but for the most important resource of all: the human bodies and souls that had heretofore comprised their late father's faithful band. The brothers’ quarrel is basic, existential. Only one can survive. When the treasured daughter of the Mormon community pledges her life to the sensualists, war is in the air. (Dare we call it a"Trojan War?")
Yet there is beauty. As in Lysistrata, most of the women bear witness to a shimmering redemption that lies just beyond reach—perhaps even within reach. We read, we turn pages, and we hope.
Negatives: After riveting our attention with his early chapters, Brownfield takes a one-or-two-chapter breather to fill us in with back story and lost years. The story bogs down here, but only a tad. Also (at least at the time of this review) the book could use a more compelling cover. Yeah, well… so what?
Caveats: adult subject matter / scenes. The very young and those whose “minds are made up” on all matters religious and sexual need not apply.
I don’t care for the one-to-five-star rating system popularized by Amazon et al, but Brownfield’s Abrupt Edge is my favorite new book of 2011. So for those readers with a celestial orientation, I’ll go 5-Star.