Poetically poignant

2011-03-23 00:00

MISTAKEN tells the story of Kevin Thunder, a working-class boy growing up in Dublin in the 1960s and his doppelgänger, Gerald, who lives on the posh side of town.

In a stabbing lunge to give the novel a Gothic air, Kevin grows up in the shadow of the home of Bram Stoker, who Jordan keeps reinforcing is the author of Dracula (as if you didn’t know). Kevin’s childhood imagination takes flight as he feels the malevolent presence of a vampire hovering around the periphery of his quotidian life.

Mistaken for Gerald a couple of times, Kevin is often on the receiving end of an unforeseen tongue-lashing or bashing from complete strangers, before the two finally meet and realise they are physically peas in a pod. So, what Kevin does has implications for Gerald and vice versa.

From here the storyline evolves and to say much more about their interaction could give too much away.

Reading Mistaken leaves me with the same empty feeling as having read a dark T. S. Eliot poem. There is a sense of unease that pervades the pages and the yearning that their lives and actions should all amount to much more.

The characters are like the undead, not quite alive, yet going through the paces nonetheless. They hover on the pages in the midst of their own individual existential crises, not quite filled out, “Hollow Men”. At times, things are alluded to but are not adequately explored so the reader becomes almost confused and is left wondering what the significance of a certain symbol is. And despite the most attentive reading, you wonder if you missed something, somewhere, maybe. The predictable Gothic images abound pleasingly — madness, doppelgängers, dark secrets, menacing buildings and the dread of blood suckers.

The pace really quickens in the last third of the book when it’s hold-on-to-your-seat, gasps-uttered-aloud-in-shock and stay-up-for-the-rest-of-the-night exciting.

Jordan’s writing is haunting at times, beautifully descriptive and often poetically poignant.

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