Nicole Disney's Reviews > Blood

Blood by Jack Remick
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it was amazing

Blood is a visceral experience, taking you deep inside the skin of a killer, where you will find him both repulsive and relatable. Jack Remick writes prose with such poetic fluidity and effortlessly calls beliefs on humanity into the spotlight to be rigorously challenged. The urge to intellectualize this story may arise, but to feel and live inside it is to truly unlock its power.

Mitch has put considerable effort into earning a five year sentence in prison. The laughable offense of stealing women's underwear is what lands him in the cell, but Mitch has real blood on his hands. He decides to turn his life into a book, and horrifying stories of slit throats, spilled intestines, and severed ears stain the pages with violence, hate, and misanthropy.

There is a truly chilling mentality shift Mitch undergoes that is worth noting. He begins with a disrespect for not just life but humans and their simplicity. He sees them as lying, cheating, killing, destructive creatures who never can and never will do more good than evil. He doesn't believe in or want salvation, he cares little for redemption, really all he wants is a quiet place to write. He takes satisfaction in semen spilled into the bedsheets, into his hand, into another man, anywhere that lacks the danger of procreating and continuing the human race.

Mitch's entire family is one of killers. There seems to be a violent gene being handed down, particularly from father to son. This is the point upon which Mitch's views will pivot. As Mitch gets deeper into his own mind, he realizes that discontinuing his own blood line was a mistake. To achieve the ultimate utopia of a world devoid of human beings, people need to disappear. Mitch decides the murders he committed were a mistake, not for any sentimental reasons but because the men he murdered were often killers themselves. Any children he might have fathered were it not for his vasectomy would have been carriers of the same violent gene and those children could have grown up to kill hundreds. He regrets not the killing, but the killing of killers. If the goal is to destroy humanity, then the more murderers there are in the world, the better.

All of this would seem enough to dissociate Mitch from anyone who isn't a sociopath, but Remick displays staggering talent in the delivery of Mitch's anguish. Mitch experiences guilt, jealousy, betrayal, anger, fear, and love, all the while exposing the basic human nature to deceive, envy, seek vengeance, and pursue the superficial. Mitch is not lacking the capacity to feel, nor is he a representation of evil. More than once he demonstrates that he actually cares very deeply for others. He is simply a human being.

The proof is in the purest part of the story, the relationship between Mitch and Squeaky. This is a love that is sweet and untainted by the damage people do to one another. The loyalty between them is unwavering and the complications that inch incident by incident into relationships to rot them from the inside simply aren't present. There is a tenderness between them that is touching, with Squeaky unfailingly supportive and gentle and Mitch reliably protective both physically and otherwise.

Mitch recognizes innocence as a seldom present but possible state of existence. Along with that recognition comes the certainty that it cannot be sustained because humans are all ultimately flawed and diseased. Because of this, Mitch's reaction to that innocence is often to ruin it. From his fetish for white panties, to his complete ruination of a once amiable prison guard, Mitch demonstrates his ability to control that illusion that is innocence. “He still has a sparkle of humanity in him and so of course I will have to kill that.” Notice, Mitch does not say “kill him” but “kill that”. It is the humanity itself that must die.

Why? We later find the answer in this passage where Mitch mentions his now deceased, ex-mercenary friend: “It takes enormous sin to open eyes to truth and the truth is that I am, we all are cozy, warm-blooded, heat producing, luscious, ripe fields of flesh and blood and bone ready for our killer to sink his teeth, his knife, his fangs into. We are worms on a hook. Our bodies are worm-like tubes with arms and legs. Suki, with his desperate eyes and snake-like movements was an efficient machine who knew how to kill with no regret, no feeling, no hope, no desire. You can never escape. The weapons are built into you.”

This passage is one of many examples of Remick's flawless cadence but it also states two simple but imperative truths. One, that we are helpless against death. And two, that the instinct and capacity to kill are built into us. Through his many sins, Mitch's eyes have been opened and he sees death in every human face. He feels the need to share this truth with others, but the price to see it is an overfamiliarity with death.

Remick works colors into nearly every page, using white for innocence, gray for prison, and red for violence. Straight from the novel we can see two examples explained outright. “...I am sure that not every man who sees a pair of white panties becomes obsessed with them and so I can only posit that I was born with the white panty receptor weaknesses, flaws, and fetishes, it is strange that the white one got me this dark place with its gray walls-- gray is the color of the suicide, three AM is its hour.”

Though these symbols are weaved throughout, perhaps the even more powerful effect of the color usage is the imagery that comes with it. There is a sharp contrast between the gray and lifeless prison and the passion and murder that exists in Mitch's heart. Take the description of the Governor, representing the prison, “In the light, I do not see his hands, just the gray face, the thin gray lips, the gray eyes, the gray skin, the gray hair clipped short and flat on the top like the hair of a drill instructor”. Now take that image and set it next to a description of this murder, “I left the blade stuck in his heart, the handle protruding like the flesh-colored stem of a bright red poppy”.

By using these colors, Remick creates a world you can taste, calls on emotions without making it obvious he is doing so, and provides cues throughout the story of what it connected, which, as it turns out, is nearly everything. This story is thorough and complete. The interconnectivity makes every word important and a joy to read.

There is also Mitch's passion for writing. Remick describes perfectly the strangling need a writer feels to create and the panic that bubbles and bursts when the right words are in danger of being lost forever. Mitch struggles repetitively with attaining the necessary writing tools. It begins with a need for paper and pens, but soon graduates to a need for a typewriter, and then a computer. There are moments of blankness, when Mitch goes days or even months without meeting his word quota. This is a complete look at the uncertainty of memories, the frustration of groping for inspiration, and the pursuit of immortality through ink.

At full speed Blood will make you squirm in discomfort and disbelief. At its most gentle, it will make you understand a killer. But it is always gorgeous writing that will transport you to a world where love and hate coexist in one of the most interesting main characters literature has to offer.
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Reading Progress

April 25, 2013 – Shelved
April 25, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
June 25, 2013 – Started Reading
June 30, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate Papas Sounds quite intriguing! Thanks

message 2: by figuratio (new) - added it

figuratio Thanks for the recommendation Nicole! I'll put it on my 'to read' list. Right now I'm about 8% of the way thru Balzac's life's works. But I can probably fit in 'Blood' somewhere along the way!

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