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The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood
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Aug 04, 12

Read on August 04, 2012

Wood's debut is auspicious. His first novel models clear prose, deep and consistent character development, and a mastery of tension. Those reading the flyleaf won't find the premise new: a young man encounters a group of privileged youths and gets drawn into their midst, only to find that the sweetness of their seemingly carefree and entitled existence not only hides their own sorrows but also will be his emotional and intellectual undoing. A touch of Brideshead Revisited here. Yet Wood's novel is also an exploration of the attraction madness can have when it is wedded to real genius. What Wood achieves, though, is utterly his own, for his protagonist is not "ordinary man" but an ordinary man, full of feeling, loving, thoughtful, and worthwhile. I knew as I finished the book that the sorrows of its narrator/hero would haunt me for some time to come, so real are they, so human, that when the whole project ended in sadness, I felt as if some true and constant friend of mind had been through the mill and come out the other side, wiser, but forever carrying the weight of hope and helplessness, love and anger, with him. Wood's best move is to allow a good man to remain a good man. Though this had elements of a thriller, it also played my heartstrings.
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