"It is a reminder that there are times when resistance, violence, even death, are preferable to tyranny...I am an inadequate leader. I have allowed my people to come to the brink of such violence, to a confusion between the wrongs that some have done to us and the wrongs that some among us now advocate that we do in return...Remember that, no matter which government rules us, we remain a free people, free in our minds, free in an unfree state."
A few pages later he's taken into custody. He's told it's protective custody, but is it? And just who is it they are they protecting him against?
A popular blurb on Moore's novels declares he was Graham Greene's favorite living novelist; of the half-dozen Moores I've read this is easily the most Greene-ean. There is nothing wrong with that by me. Cardinal Bem has to make sense of various factions, all with their own agenda: unions, Security Police, church officials of at least three different political stripes, Communist officials of the state--the Prime Minister is an old schoolmate--but also those officials' Russian minders. Some of them want violence, and some of them want to avoid it at any cost. But as Bem notes in his speech above, sometimes avoiding violence at any cost is, in fact, a cost too high. But I don't want to give away Cardinal Bem's final choices.
Moore did not foresee how close the fall of the Iron Curtain actually was in 1987, but then almost nobody did.
'...the tyranny of an age when religious beliefs have become inextricably entwined with political hatreds...'
I thought: which age isn't that? But of course Moore was from Northern Ireland. He may very well have known that to be a problem that wasn't ever entirely going away.
The novel was shortlisted for the Booker its year, but lost out to Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger. I quite liked Moon Tiger, but I probably would have picked this. I thought The Color of Blood was very good. This may very well have just rocketed up to be my favorite Moore, though such comparisons are always silly and it's been twenty years since I read Judith Hearne and Ginger Coffey so I might rethink that if I reread them. Highly recommended.
This year would be Brian Moore's hundredth birthday and Cathy at 746 Books (with help) is hosting a celebration.
And while Moore emigrated to Canada, became a citizen, was living in the US when he wrote this book, and it's a book about somewhere in Eastern Europe, he *was* born in Northern Ireland, so...I think we get to count it!
i'm beknightedly unaware of Moore. i see i'll have to remedy that... i'm continually (continuously?) surprised by all the excellent authors of which i'm ignorant. i'll just have to live another hundred years, i guess... darn...ReplyDelete
Go for it, I say!Delete
Moore's pretty good. He's better known up here because he's sort of Canadian, and several of his books are set here. I don't think I'd heard of him when I was still living in the US.
Sounds like a book that's worth reading...and an author that's worth knowing. :)ReplyDelete
I think he's quite good. Some of them are darkly tragic (like Judith Hearne) but still superb.Delete
I read his book, The Magician's Wife, in 1998, but I wasn't taken with it. In my review, I expressed surprise that the author had been nominated for the Booker three times. But maybe I should give him another chance. Perhaps MW wasn't his best.ReplyDelete
I read The Magician's Wife as well, back in 2000, and I wasn't that impressed either, it seems. (I don't remember it that well.) I thought this was much better. I remember Ginger Coffey and Judith Hearne quite favorably, though both are grim tales of poverty.Delete
OTOH, I do remember actively disliking The Great Victorian Collection...
I checked my library and they only have one of his books:ReplyDelete
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne. That rather sucks. But I ordered it. I really need to concentrate on the classics but I keep getting pulled towards books like this. Oh well! Thanks for the recommendation!
Judith Hearne is very good, though terribly sad, and I think a lot of people would say it was his masterpiece. (So if your library has only one...) A future classic! In fact it is more than fifty years old so it could count for Karen's challenge.Delete
If you do end up reading it, it's the readalong book for Cathy's Brian Moore for April. I'm thinking about rereading it myself...but it is so terribly sad. But let me know if you do, that would be an inducement.
Short listed for the Booker you say in 1987? Funny that people get all up in arms about how the Booker lost all prestige when the panel of judges allegedly started choosing books that were "readable" a few years ago. But this sounds like a very readable book.ReplyDelete
I have heard of The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne but not read it.
P.S. I loved Moon Tiger.
It is readable! And I liked Moon Tiger, though Road to Lichfield is my favorite of the Lively volumes I've read.Delete
It is weird about the 'readable' Booker. I started paying attention to the Booker when Remains of the Day and Possession won back to back & I loved both of those. But neither of them is exactly 'difficult'.
Midnight's Children is a bit hard, I guess, but other than that none of the early ones seem all that difficult. (At least of the ones I've read.)