Pages: 320, paperback
Genre: Southern gothic
"Euchrid Eucrow - outcast among outcasts. Born mute to a drunken mother and a father who spends his days building vicious traps and his nights building delicate towers of cards. Euchrid has a mind that seethes with words to express his vision of the world around him. "
It is Euchrid alone - ever hidden to escape the town's self-righteous rage, finding more compassion in the family mule than in his fellow man who will grasp the cruel fate of Cosey Mo, the beautiful young prostitute in the pink caravan on Hooper's hill. And as years pass and events unfold, it is Euchrid, driven farther and farther from the human fold, deeper and deeper into his mad angelic vision, who will both redeem the town and its people with his pain and sacrifice - and wreak a terrible vengeance.
Let me just start off by saying that I adore Nick Cave's music. And I adore that he's Australian. I like to describe his music, and as a result--this book--Australian gothic. This is a genre that I think needs to be further expanded. Ass and the Angel is a book that feels like a song.
As always, there are spoilers.
The writing is gorgeous, poetic, expected from someone who writes country gothic musics. Just like the expansive nothingness of country Australia, of the tight-knit community with herd mentality, it felt both invasive and broadly lonely.
The thing that made it work so well for me was the irony of the usage of religion. As you might have guessed, the main character, Euchrid the mute, is the Ass in the town. The Angel in the town is the Jesus-like girl that the town pampers and adores. The irony of the girl comes from the systematic rape and torture of the town whore, the Whore of Babylon, so to speak. When the baby of the broken woman is left in front of the town's statue, the townspeople react with overzealous adoration to this heavenly baby.
I find it so wonderfully ironic that it never occurred to them that the girl is a daughter of the Whore. But Euchrid knows. He knows that the girl is more than she seems.
The religious imagery and metaphors are brilliant. It makes me wish I had more knowledge of the bible. Imagine how much I could have missed with my limited knowledge of the religion.
As good as this book was, the writing sometimes left something to desire. The writing is beautiful, lyrical, but at the same it felt like a rough draft. It needed a bit of polishing. Not only this but it felt like Cave was super high when he wrote it. Which I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case.
Cover Art: 4
Level of Interest: 2