His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet, is the second (and last) book shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker short-list that I’ve read, and while it is utterly different to Eileen, it’s left me with a similar aftertaste. I’m both impressed and disturbed.

It’s so good in fact, that I honestly thought it was based on real historical events, I only know it isn’t because the Man Booker is a prize awarded for a novel. Which probably means I need my Ravenclaw access revoked. However, this speaks volumes for the authentic feel of the novel Burnet presents.

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

“A brutal triple murder in a remote northwestern crofting community in 1869 leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. There’s no question that Macrae is guilty, but the police and courts must uncover what drove him to murder the local village constable. And who were the other two victims? Ultimately, Macrae’s fate hinges on one key question: is he insane? ” GoodReads.

His Bloody Project is hard reading, it’s not a gripping read. However, I recommend fighting through the lacklustre text to get the overall impression of the murders Roderick Macrae committed. Burnet aptly recreates the tone you would expect from a Victorian setting. Your reading investment will pay off.

The book is split into sections; witness statements, Roderick’s memoir, medical examinations, psychologist reports, and extracts of the trail. Roderick’s memoir is cold and detached. He speaks very matter-of-factly and while he describes situations that clearly pained or upset him you don’t feel that emotion come through. He accepts what he did was wrong, but that death was the only option. At first, it feels as though he is resigned to his fate, but as you read on through the evidence and trial you wonder if this is evidence of his madness, or if he may indeed be a psychopath.

Which ultimately became the mystery of the book, as certain details – which I won’t spoil – come to light, you begin to doubt what you ‘know’. With the added benefit of reading this novel now, with the advancement in the studies of the mind, to perhaps see elements of Roderick’s behaviour that indicate he wasn’t the same as his peers. You’re all at once in the novel, in 1869, and outside of it with modern knowledge.

It’s also a fascinating look at the situation of the poor, and how people of lower-income were (unfairly or incorrectly) perceived. You feel for the Macrae’s, punished for being different and for not being economically fortunate. Burnet’s representation of the misunderstanding of Criminality is excellent. The idea that features of a person that dictate criminality (pigeon chest, high cheekbones, misshapen cranium) are as fascinating as they are maddening.

I found while I couldn’t align myself with Roderick, I couldn’t condemn him either. He wasn’t right, but the situation wasn’t fair.

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet was a fascinating read, you may find it a little slow going, but it’s more than worth powering through!

How many of the shortlist have you read?

Literary Life: September in Review

I’m wearing a jumper, I’ve switched to a winter quilt, and I’m considering a fringe – it must be autumn.

September was a quiet month and rather depressingly I’m having to check Instagram to see if I’ve done anything. Who needs a memory when you’ve got social media…..

I went to the Brighton Toy Museum, which is adorable if a little train heavy (luckily, I love a train). My friend Agnes and I (almost) aced the child’s puzzle and we felt rather smug about it.

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In other news, I faced a big change last month and I’ve had to do a fair amount of soul-searching to come to terms with the change.

Brace yourselves. I’m a Ravenclaw.

I’ve finally come to accept that my obvious genius utterly overpowers my capacity for evil. It’s not been easy to accept, but sometimes you just need to accept that who you are when you take the Pottermore quiz when it began isn’t the person you are when you take it in your 30s, and you need to deal with that. It does beg the question, what am I going to do with my Slytherin robes…?

Also, my Patronus is a Mastiff, I’m not sure whether to be pleased or not. Thoughts?

Currently Reading:

Bel-Ami – Monpaussant
Parade’s End – Ford Madox Ford

Unfinished:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson (I spoiled myself and then got put off)

I’ve Read:

  1. About My Mother: A Novel – Tahar Ben Jelloun
  2. Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh
  3. Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame – Mara Wilson
  4. Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide – J.K. Rowling
  5. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies – J.K. Rowling
  6. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists – J.K. Rowling

Eileen – as you will have gathered from my review on Monday – utterly disturbed me. I’m still not sure what I think of it.

How was your literary September?

eileen by ottessa moshfegh

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

I honestly don’t know if I enjoyed this book or not. I feel shaken and disturbed.

eileen-by-ottessa-moshfegh“A lonely young woman working in a boys’ prison outside Boston in the early 60s is pulled into a very strange crime, in a mordant, harrowing story of obsession and suspense, by one of the brightest new voices in fiction.” GoodReads.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh is such a clever and intense book. It begins in one manner and then turns into something completely different I wasn’t expecting. It’s creepy, but to begin with, you don’t really notice. A lot of the thoughts Eileen has appear normal. Until you think of Eileen in the situations she is describing, rather than focusing on what she is thinking, does it become clear that she is not in a reasonable situation thinking healthy thoughts.

Yet, this is really only the beginning, at first, you can see her growing out of the teenage mindset she is in. She sits outside the house of a man she thinks she is in love with, it’s a teenage fantasy love where she loves the idea of him more than actually knowing who he is and what it is to really love. It’s story book romance. All she needs is a little guidance and she can grow up. But, then Rebecca comes in. I don’t want to spoil it, but that was around the time the book blew my mind and I wasn’t sure what I was meant to think about what I was reading other than horror.

Where Eileen acts based on her childhood experience, Rebecca acts out of what could be a psychosis. However, outside of that, could what they have done be okay?

Because what disgusted me most wasn’t either of them.

You have to read this book.

Have you read Eileen?
If you have I need to know your thoughts. I’ve written this immediately after reading so it’s all a bit, ‘AHHHHH’ in my head right now.

I requested this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.