Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mr Peanut, by Adam Ross (Borzoi Books, $25.95)

If you're thinking of getting married, don't read this book: it will terrify you

If you're thinking of getting married, read this book: it will inspire you.

Paradox and duality are the heart of this stunningly weird book, whose leitmotif is the Escher picture of interlocking angels and devils that switch from one to the other depending on how you focus, and whose villain is named Mobius. It is the story of David Pepin's love for and resentment of his wife Alice, whom he may or or may not have killed, in “real life” and in the book he is writing about their life together. Interwoven with the tangled revelations of the facts and fantasies about their relationship is the story of Sam Sheppard, who may or may not have killed his wife in real “real life” and in the pages of this book – or is it in David's book? Also sprinkled into the unfolding is a riff on Hitchcock and how Rear Window's story of Jimmy Stewart's character's voyeuristic investigation of the man who may have killed his wife is an allegory for Stewart's character's desire to kill his own love interest; a fantasy on the part of the detective investigating Alice's death about the murder and dismemberment of his own wife; a description of how the living arrangements on Malaya promote non-violence; and much much more.

With precision and poetry, Ross captures life's big moments of passion; the small details of everyday existence; and the way marriage is lived along the complex interface between the two. Reading his book offers some of the same experience: tumbling around in a vortex of alternate histories while being riveted to page by a still moment of absolute clarity and simplicity.

If you're confused but intrigued by this review, you have a foretaste of what this brilliantly original book is like.

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