|List Page » Reviews » Details & Review » Updates »|
It is a rare book that, once you hit “The End”, you simply turn to page one and start over again. Blood in Electric Blue is, well, close to that and at least worth a skim back. There is subtle evidence throughout that the mystery is not solvable without a major perspective shift. The puzzle then becomes finding the right pieces to build another context in which to judge each characters' considerations. The momentum builds to an expected crescendo, then opens the trap door. It is a wonderful, nuanced read, classically penned in unpretentious prose, with enough shades to keep you thoroughly entrenched.
Or, maybe not.
Maybe it's just a straight read with events, just like in real life, that are simply unexplainable. Maybe it's not as imaginable as I suspect. But then, the story does start out with the discovery of a book called Mythical Beings in a Mortal World. Or, as our protagonist transposes toward the end, is it really Mortal Beings in a Mythical World (Delirium Books, no ISBN, limited HC edition, c.2008, p.203)?
There is little doubt the Malloy brothers have problems coping. The older brother, Willie, has re-invented himself to the extreme of becoming a woman. The younger one, Dignon, who is our guide, sees “his entire life a slow burn, a fatigued look back over his shoulder” (p.38). The flashpoints of his sorrow oscillate between two events: the death of his mother during his birth, and being suddenly dumped by his longtime girlfriend Lisa over twenty years ago. The first is an open wound that will never heal because his alcoholic father, who has bitterly accused and abused him all his life for his wife's death, has since died without reconciliation. The second has submerged Dignon into a celibate bachelorhood, encapsulating him in self-loathing while he sinks deeper and further away from most human contact. He sees himself as a 44-year-old lard-ass, completely incompetent and without direction, who, “unless he has an erection he cannot see his penis” (p.87). Recently, a co-worker and best friend has been shotgunned to death in his presence. He's now on a leave of absence from his home electronics delivery job, guiltily concluding that he's “some sort of death magnet” (p.14).
Plot propulsion is activated when Dignon conjures a romantic longing from a name and phone number in a used book he's recently purchased. Inexplicitly, he feels compelled to contact this Bree Harper under the pretext of returning the “lost” book to her. Through an ensuing set of happenings, or delusions, Dignon gets convinced Bree is a mythical being—a Siren, in fact, who uses “beauty rather than violence to destroy those helplessly drawn” (p.88) to her—and that she has singled him out because he's Thanatos Kataskevastis—an entity known as the Death Maker (p.108) who possesses great power within his dark soul.
In synopsis, it sounds very comicbook-ish while the actual read is far more layered and textured with enough hazy atmospherics to sway, forestall, and puzzle most workable conclusions. Although written in third-person omniscient, the point of view is overwhelmingly Dignon's and subtly colored in perceptual contamination. Author Gifune keeps it real enough as he navigates possible answers across an oil slick of growing, past atrocities from the boys' childhoods. Events congeal into unctuous blobs of misunderstanding, growing crepuscular and more amorphous until the final spill forces an ambiguous and multi-interpretational cleanup. It's certainly not the And-Then-Little-David-Awoke finale of Invaders from Mars, as it engenders a far more ambitious set of conclusions, including the possibility that it's all been a lamentation from Purgatory, or at least a mental epistle from a containment of fabulous essences, gods, and human spirits. Like J.J. Abrams' astonishing film Cloverfield, there are no nascent giveaways.
Instead of herding its audience through the foil-stamped, embossed-cover haunts of most rotating-rack, mallstore Horror, Blood in Electric Blue challenges readers to trailblaze beyond the veneer, to ascertain the possibility that Godard's Alphaville (p.158) is a documentary, or that those ordinary factory smokestacks belching waste and signaling demise are