Friday, 11 March 2016

Review: And the Ass Saw the Angel

And the Ass Saw the Angel And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Outcast, mute, a lone twin cut from a drunk mother in a shack full of junk, Euchrid Eucrow of Ukulore inhabits a nightmarish Southern valley of preachers and prophets, incest and ignorance. When the God-fearing folk of the town declare a foundling child to be chosen by the Almighty, Euchrid is disturbed. He sees her very differently, and his conviction, and increasing isolation and insanity, may have terrible consequences for them both...

I've made it very clear I am a diligent fan of Nick Cave. I read his second book The Death of Bunny Munro a few years back and fell in love with it. Then I got the audio book and fell in love even harder. Over the years Bunny Munro has supplanted my previous favourite books.

I had always meant to read And the Ass Saw the Angel but put it off because, to be honest, the synopsis didn't grab me. I'm not much for Southern Gothic. It took Bunny Munro to push me into finally sinking my teeth into this.

It was beautifully disgusting.

Once again Nick Cave's use of language, words, structure and imagery make for an interesting reading experience. It's wet and rotting and dusty and sweaty and sticky and gross. It's verbose and decaying and breathing. It's unrelenting and unsympathetic.

Everyone in this book, with two small exceptions, is a horrible person. There are no heroes, only villains or victims. Euchrid himself would be an anti-hero who devolves into madness if it weren't for the fact he was just so weird to the level it makes him unrelatable. It's like Nick Cave took the running inner thoughts of a member of Rob Zombie's Firefly family. But even the Firefly family were loyal and cared about one another. There is no care, no love, not even friendship to be found here.

That sounds negative, doesn't it? It's actually praise. It's such a weird descent into completely alien world-views and environment that it makes it a fascinating read, helped along greatly but amazing prose. The ending made me smile because I am sometimes a horrible person and I felt very satisfied. Euchrid got a small win, unbeknownst to him, and the righteous townsfolk are left drowning under the weight of their own prophecies.

I still prefer Bunny Munro because I found Bunny himself more 'fun' than Euchrid and his plight more interesting and universal. They're both horrible people but Bunny doesn't stomp dogs to death, so, there's one point in his favour.

Fun fact: While reading this book, Nick Cave's song Tupelo has constantly been replaying itself in my head. It's been a month and a half. Send help.

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