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The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bonesby Jack Wolf
Synopses & Reviews
The explosive and controversial debut novel by a major new voice in fiction
Meet Tristan Hart, a brilliant young man of means. The year is 1751, and at the age of twenty he leaves home to study medicine at the great hospital of St. Thomas in London. It will be a momentous year for the intellectually ambitious Mr. Hart, who, in addition to being a student of Locke and Descartes and a promising young physician, is also, alas, psychotic. He is obsessed with the nature of pain and medically preventing it, but—equally strong and much harder to control—is his obsession with causing it. Desperate to understand his deviant desires before they are his undoing, he uses the new tools of the age—reason and science and skepticism—to plumb the depths of his own dark mind.
Profoundly imaginative, unexpectedly funny, and with a strange but moving love story at its heart, The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones is an oddly beautiful and daring novel about the relationship between the mind and body, sex, madness, pain, and the existence of God.
"Tristan Hart is a psychotic sadist and a student of anatomy. Growing up in 18th-century England, he hears the legend of the boogeyman Raw-Head-and-Bloody-Bones and is not sure if Raw Head is a 'Phantasm' — a subtle foreshadowing of Tristan's frequent and elaborate hallucinations. While attending a surgery, Tristan discovers a need to inflict pain. He abuses prostitutes ('I dedicated Houres to the Acquisition and Perfection of my Form with the Last, the Cat, the Scourge, and the Birch Rod.... I became adept at provoking Screams of the truest Pitch and Intensity; bright Rainbows of refracted Anguish that lit up the Room'), but later meets Katherine Montague, who will become his wife and who, to Tristan's delight, enjoys pain. Much of this debut from English writer Wolf is made up of Tristan's hallucinations, populated with Goblins and Gypsies and depicted so elaborately it's sometimes hard to discern whether the narrative is taking place in his mind or in his life — and, indeed, Wolf seems intent on the ambiguity. Wolf's novel is confident and unique, although at times muddled, given the extent of the hallucinatory passages, but it should attract readers of historical fiction and transgressive fantasy. Agent: Will Francis, Janklow & Nesbit (U.K.)." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jack Wolf is currently studying for a Ph.D. and is at work on his second novel. He lives in the United Kingdom.
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