The Beautiful Torment of a Dream by A Portsmouth
|The Beautiful Torment of a Dream by A Portsmouth|
|Genre: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: A rather unattractive and negative character called Peter wants to improve his life. He somehow talks himself into committing a murder on an innocent man - but the troubles just keep on piling up.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 198||Date: October 2011|
|Publisher: Chaos Cottage|
This is a beautifully presented book with its enigmatic front cover and equally enigmatic title. After reading the blurb on the back cover I was left with a feeling of wishy-washiness however, as regards the storyline. Unfortunately, the contents confirmed this for me.
Chapter 1 is a short, half-page affair with the line The knife plunged through the man's stomach, blood crawling down the handle and licking over Peter's fingers ... This is presumably the hook to catch the reader's attention. The time-line then back-pedals to two weeks earlier, to the run-up to this random act of murder.
Peter, the central character is only thirty-something, he felt like an old man who'd dreamed about the past ... He comes across as a bit of a loner and with all these recurring dreams (they sound more like nightmares to me) the obvious question might be: is he ill, or depressed, or on some sort of strong medication? Well, Peter tells us in his own rather pitiful and surly fashion that his life has no meaning, he's empty. He sounds suicidal and I did wonder why he didn't just end it all) but then, of course there'd be no book ... To Peter every day is similar to a torment for him and simple tasks, like ordering food in a restaurant, for example appear to be problematic for him and leave him exhausted. He also tells us that he's tried all the normal routes - drinking, sex, gambling etc - in order to ease, or blot out, this emptiness. Nothing has worked so far.
To make matters worse, he sees colleagues and acquaintances (friends are thin on the ground) marry, have children and end up leading fulfilling and happy lives. Why not him? So we spend some time on his old flames, old romances. And one girlfriend did have a connection for him but sadly it didn't work out. He now can't seem to put her out of his mind.
Peter spends a lot of time on his own in his free time. He does a monotonous job - somewhere in Europe. So, he thinks a lot, probably too much and unhealthy thoughts start to creep in. For example, if it's okay to kill animals to eat then surely it must be okay to kill a fellow human being. Yes, quite. Get him a bed in the nearest hospital - and quick. His thoughts ramble all over the place. Some are less interesting than others. Certainly celebrities were intrinsically no different to him for example.
I found Portsmouth's (there is no reference as to whether the author is male or female) style to be rather forced, as if trying too hard to impress. But sadly, it didn't impress me in the slightest. To be fair, there are some good pieces of fiction here and there, but they are the exception rather than the rule, I'm afraid. I suspect Portsmouth wants to create a Kafka-esque feel - but if that's the case, then this book is a poor imitation, in my opinion. I didn't really connect with Peter or his predicament and I was somewhat relieved to reach the final chapter. Not a book I'll remember.
If this book appeals then you might like to try Many and Many a Year Ago by Selcuk Altun.
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