I am too far North this weekend to get buried in snow.
I took this picture two weeks ago on one of the unseasonably warm days that have characterized this winter season. Now, at least, temperatures have dropped enough to cast a sheet of ice over the open water.
This morning there is the carcass of a deer lopped onto the ice and I am trying to explain to my three year old son why the deer is letting the crows scavenge and the occasional bald eagle circle in rapt supervision. I am drinking the last of my limited time white chocolate peppermint mocha coffee.
Spring still can’t come soon enough.
Speaking of spring, the four books that I read for this post, all titled The Resurrectionist, have different definitions of death, and consequently what it means to be brought back to life. And, as a side note, there are actually more than four books out there with this title. Just ask Goodreads. It seems that now that I have read the quintessential Gothic works out there, I have managed to find more members of the genre.
I have been trying to tell my son this morning that that deer on the ice will not wake up again. And in The Resurrectionist by Jack O’Connell, that is exactly how death is defined. Under the weight of the tragic death of his wife after an accident puts his beloved sex year old son in a coma, Sweeney, a pharmacist, brings his son to a private hospital for the comatose in hopes of a radical recovery. An awakening. There is a parallel story interwoven into this narrative, (and I love stories with multiple lines that find ways to converge) of homeless circus freaks trying to find a home in Bohemia. There is also a biker gang squatting in a nearby abandoned prosthetics factory that have a different plan of how to help reunite father and son. Cool premise, good execution. I liked that it was a spin on the Victorian definition of resurrectionist, which is the definition used in two of the remaining three books.
Medical research and surgery could not have advanced without the employ of body snatchers, and not only in Victorian England. The Resurrectionist by James Bradley, is the most expected use of the title, with a young surgery student having a falling out and deciding to become part of the crew that was bringing the bodies to his apprenticeship. I don’t think this book is as bad as the reviews make it out to be. Maybe because I have not read other things by Bradley. I did notice one of his other books, The China Mirage, earned an almost five star rating on Amazon. The Resurrectionist is dark, beautifully written, and I could follow all right with the jumps in time (no Time Traveler’s Wife, but seriously, what is?). It was good at making me feel the cold desperation of the Victorian poor and marginalized. I liked that. However, this is not a book with a happy ending. It continues a descent until the end, and there is some change in the main character, but the change does not necessarily bring him happiness. It is a rebirth of his own of sorts. One reviewer describes the book as a “series of nightmares” at the expense of a plot.
Body snatching for the purposes of research and training was not the central element of darkness in Matthew Guinn’s The Resurrectionist. Race relations in the American South and addiction also feature in this Edgar Award finalist. The story of a gifted slave in the Civil War South forced to procure bodies and work in a medical college along with the story of a modern doctor earning his right to practice back after a crippling Xanax addiction. The modern doctor works to unearth this piece of the college’s shady past, which includes personal implications. The slave forced into body snatching, Nemo, is definitely a strong, well defined, and unforgettable character. I love it when powerless characters find power in their worlds, and that is exactly what he does. Although the South is only a few states away from me, it can appear as a whole other world. I can’t always relate to the values. I like a Gothic novel having a new setting because anywhere with history has some sort of dark underbelly.
EB Huspeth’s Gothic novel has a different interpretation of the title. Also trained as a physician and dedicated to studying and advancing medicine, Dr. Spencer Black wants to resurrect past creatures that explain modern anatomy. This protagonist sees deformities (the result of random genetic mutation) as expressions of past genes no longer expressed. He seeks to revive these past creatures that never actually existed. It is a dark tale of genius turned madness and obsession. Who can’t get into one of those? This book tells a story, but it would be awesome (and long) more fleshed out, more showing than just telling. Even one piece of this story could stand apart as its own work. There are medical illustrations in this book to show the fictional work in which Dr. Black engages. I wish I had thought of this tale and written it how I felt it needed to be done. I actually think that it is a credit to the book that I think it is so cool that I wish I had made it my own.
So, the other books I see with this title seem to be more romance and ghosty. I don’t know. I liked blogging about how books with the same title treated that same title differently. I might try to hunt down more.
Other reading goals: more than halfway done with my first over 500 book of the year!
Three short stories have been read!
I love comments/suggestions.