Book 44: Beast by Paul Kingsnorth

An exceedingly strange little book about a man who leaves his wife and child to live in the wildernes and encounters some kind of dark creature out on the English moors.

Does that make it sound like some sort of throwback to the Victorian horror story, like The Wolfman or The Hound of the Baskervilles? That’s certainly what I was hoping for but Kingsnorth’s novel is – excuse me, sorry – an altogether different beast.

It begins as a fairly rote back-to-nature parable about masculinity and modern technology but it doesn’t take Kingsnorth long to reveals his more experimental and existentialist agenda.

As the protagonist Edward Buckmaster begins to devolve – freed from the schackles of modern civilisation and also, quite possibly, his sanity – so too does the book itself: punctuation and grammatical structure begins to disappear until the novel becomes an unadulterated stream of consciousness.

Which would be a really neat literary trick if the things that underpinned it were in anyway compelling. But Buckamaster is a boring cypher who spends most of the novel wandering around in a daze looking for a creature that probably doesn’t excist and throwing potatoes at a window.



Author: adamgartrell

Political journalist drowning in books

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