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Us surrounded by zealots but insulated by a carapace of solipsism Gillespie struggles futilely to maintain his position on the sidelines Once embarrassed by melodrama and maudlin displays of affection he finds himself begging Inès to take him back And once so bitterly skeptical of Lumumba's efforts he finds himself drawn into the struggle forced to make a sacrifice for a cause he doubts a self consciously doomed gesture to win back Inès's love For much of the book Gillespie's presiding motto is a uote from Pushkin Does a man die at your feet your business is not to help him but to note the color of his lips But when he has an opportunity to enact that dictum its guidance seems woefully inadeuate Gillespie's policy of detachment becomes the ultimate catastrophe I was always too much a watcher Gillespie laments at the close of the book Indeed one of The Catastrophist's finest ironies is that the journalist Inès has discarded all objectivity while Gillespie the novelist and narrator insists his writing maintain a sense of distance Bennett too is a watcher his prose alert and deliberate and yet for him this policy of detachment works brilliantly Much of the book's power derives from its implacable steady tone and many of its most stirring passages are the love scenes in which Gillespie's cool measured narrative voice struggles against and succumbs to the eroticism and immediacy of the momentThis tactic does have its weaknesses however; the climactic scenes of violence and brutality depicting the aftermath of Mobuto's coup fall flat as do Gillespie's ruminations on his love of literature In both these cases the crescendo in narrative intensity feels vaguely inauthentic But on the whole Bennett has given us a superb book part suspense thriller part psychological study It adds its capable voice to that unsettling opening of Conrad's own masterful tale And this also has been one of the dark places of the earthBenjamin Soski An exceptionally good read this novel is set primarily in the Congo during the ferocious struggle for independence from Belgium that led to the assassination of popular leader Patrice Lumumba and the ascendancy of the dictator Mobutu with assistance from both Belgium and the US Amidst the savagery of those world historical events the author manages to locate a wrenching and compelling love story between the narrator an Irish writer named James Gillespie and his romantic obsession the leftist Italian journalist Ines Sabiani While Bennett does a commendable job detailing the events and the feeling of the events of 1960 61 the real pulse of the novel is the narrator's love for Ines and his own inner demons and doubts about his own place in the world and worthiness of her love in return Right alongside the blood curdling brutality of the Congolese civil war are passages of extraordinary intimacy and tenderness of sexual passion and jealousy of longing and the tragedy of loss Though the narrator's few comments about Ireland and the Irish conflict the Troubles did not fully erupt in Northern Ireland until 1969 are dismissive and disparaging one need only know that Bennett was himself imprisoned at the infamous Long Kesh prison aka The Maze in the early 1970s due to suspected republican activity to be convinced that it was a likely source for at least some of the depth of humanity in this fine novel deserving of the many comparisons it has received to Conrad and to Graham Greene
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The CatastrophistA NovelHeart of DarknessFew literary works have achieved the sustained unflinching pessimism of Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's haunting tale of one man's journey into the African subcontinent One new novel that can justly make that claim is The Catastrophist by the talented Irish writeractivist Ronan Bennett Here Conrad's classic tale is transmogrified by a century of irony Westernization and a tip of the hat to Graham Greene and John le Carré Benett's Marlow is James Gillespie an Irish historian turned novelist who travels to the Congo in 1959 Set against the death throes of the age of imperialism the new nation's violent struggle for independence from Belgium provides ample opportunity for Gillespie to explore the dark territory of political and emotional engagementGillespie's Kurtz the figure who draws him to the Congo and whose maddening attachment to the place both fascinates and repulses him is Inès a fiery Italian journalist who pens fiercely pro Congolese articles for a radical newspaper Inès and Gillespie met in London at the house of Gillespie's publisher and soon after were heading to Ireland for a romantic getaway Inès was smitten instantly I am already loving you she whispers as they first make love but Gillespie considerably less headstrong was slower to recognize his feelings Following Inès to Léopoldville Kinshasa the Congolese capital was his emotional plunge his gesture toward commitment But soon after his arrival Gillespie realizes that he has been displaced from Inès's attentions by her devotion to Patrice Lumumba the charismatic Congolese independence leader Gillespie on the other hand is incapable of viewing the disorganized independence movement as anything than an unfortunate farce; nor does he sympathize with the Belgians in Léopoldville who live in cloistered luxury walled off from the cité indigène where the blacks live by well patrolled walls and their own willful obliviousnessDespairing First I'm going to tell you what the Financial Times has to say about this book Bennett's writing is as lush and sensual as ripe mangos The tone which is perfectly pitched and the exotic setting collude to evoke an era of colonial decadenceRemember this Now I'm going to tell you What I learned from this book I always wondered who was stupid enough to put that on top of the review box but now I know That's not the learning experience I wanted to tell you about thoughWhat I learned from this book is that when the Financial Times recommends a book and compares it to sweet juicy fruits it's most likely a sensual tale about a man and a woman written for desperate business men who know they can't exactly keep the playboy on their deskIn other words Bennett writes porn Oh right it's not really porn because the people aren't naked when the story starts so technically I guess it's erotica though there's an awful lot of porny bits so lets call the horse by its nameIt's tasteful porn I give him that The non porny bits are good too the whole book is good really And you don't see me complaining about the porny bits either no sir It's just that I didn't expect it to be that porny But see those business men need something juicy to read in those long buiness class flights and a book that pretends to be a love story set during the fight for the Congolese independence with a cover that doesn't suggest porn at all and provides innocent intellectual parts on every page that you can uote in case anyone asks you to that's just the thing for those men In other words that's just the thing for Financial Times readers There they are in business class imagining what it would be like to sleep with Ines who doesn't like foreplay and gets very wet very fast yes I'm uoting settling the Financial Times a bit securely down in their lap and if somebody asks what they are reading Oh it's this book about a writer look what an understanding EMO man I am who goes to the Congo because of a woman look what a romantic I am during the fight for Congolese independence look what an intellectual I amI still call it porn It's also very male porn which made it uite interesting because it is written entirely from a man's POV a man who thinks he is in love Girls do you think Bennett realizes how accurate his description of love really is? Man thinks he is in lovethinks about his sex life all the time?This is even cleverer than I thoughtSo I think we've established that it's an intellectual book for business men who like to read porn while flying But then I get to the last page and whow Mr Bennett is that you in that EMO pose with the schoolboyishly ruffled hair and are you really wearing a thick woolen turtleneck sweater? You look like Angel's Wesley Only with less leather they don't like black leather in business class That totally makes me want to go out with you But if I want to read about real men having sex I go look for some good slash fiction on the internet More leather less of that pesky love stuff SorryBack to the book I had some structural differences with it mostly because it takes place in the past but is written in a present tense first person narrator POV which was a bit confusing in the beginning I also wasn't as drawn into the love part of the love story as I had hoped to be but the historical part made up for that So should you read this? Why not It's not a bad book it's probably even a good book Except if you are a woman you might want something with a bit depth cause I can't help thinking that the whole story was just an excuse to write about sex and violence Mr Bennett I'd still go out with you thoughHave I learned something else from this book?Yes I don't use enough fruit metaphors to ever be writing reviews for the Financial Times Ripe mangos??? Were they being served in business class while the reviewer wrote his review?
Ronan Bennett » The CatastrophistA Novel DOC
PDF ï BOOK The CatastrophistA Novel FREE ✓ RONAN BENNETT ¿ Heart of DarknessFew literary works have achieved the sustained unflinching pessimism of Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's haunting tale of one man's journey into the African subcontinent One new novel that can justly make that claim is The CatastrophOver Inès's increasingly distant air Gillespie befriends an American named Stipe who is in the Congo to promote American security interests as well as Stipe's loyal ambitious driver Auguste Stipe feeds Gillespie information about the imminence of an uprising allowing him to complete some lucrative freelance pieces while Auguste shares his dreams about having an office on Fifth AvenueThese bonds prove fragile however and dissolve once the independence movement comes to a violent chaotic boil Inès's partisanship becomes even pronounced and she spends all her time at Lumumba's camp Gillespie's articles alienate him from many of the Belgians who refuse to consider the Congolese other than as mischievous children Stipe and his Belgian companions meanwhile become fearful of Lumumba's Communist sympathies and begin unsavory efforts to undermine his authority supporting the right wing party of the pro Western Mobutu Sese Seko instead Auguste who has become active in Lumumba's youth movement dissociates himself from Stipe; entering into Lumumba's inner circle he soon meets Inès Inès and Auguste become lovers and Gillespie after countless efforts to win her back is forced to contemplate a world breaking up around him The Catastrophist is primarily a story of failure both of a crumbling political movement and of a doomed relationship There is little surprise about the former even for those unfamiliar with Congolese history; in the opening scene of the book Lumumba is captured by Mobutu after attempting to escape the country Inès once charged Gillespie with being a catastrophist one who believes it is always the end He countered by claiming that if the problem is bigthe only thing to do is leave it behind As the events of the book lead inexorably to a series of personal and political catastrophes Gillespie's pessimism seems only to be confirmed; and yet tethered by his love for Inès he cannot leave these catastrophes behindTh is December 1960 The Belgian Congo is on the verge of independence James Gillispie a journalist and minor novelist is in Leopoldville planning to reunite with his lover Inez James is Irish and she is Italian They had an affair in Ireland and London his normal homeThe novel is an exotic foreign land politically based thriller and a story of unreuited love Shortly after James reunites with Inez he meets Stipe an intelligent well read American who works in a non defined job at the U S Embassy Still later James is introduced to Auguste Stipe's driver Auguste a Congolese is well educated and bears a card entitling him to privileges only enjoyed be whites including the right to eat in white restaurantsJames and Inez attend a party hosted by a wealthy Belgian where they witness the Belgium Army's murder of several Congolese independence demonstrators They are horrified but as both are reporters they realize they must write about and report what they saw Independence and the love story unfold from the massacre Both reporters have different relations with Patrice Lumumba the short lived Congolese prime minister following independence James earnestly believes journalists should only report what they see and hear Inez is a dedicated European liberal perhaps a communist and slants her stories to fit her political beliefs Also she becomes personally involved with the people she is writing about These professional and personal differences lead to their estrangement During an argument Inez calls James a catastrophist Italian for someone who is totally objective does not become involved and has no passionIndependence uickly sinks into civil war James and Inez are separated Stipe and Auguste have hugely different agendas The story ends several years later in a small Italian village where James now resides to write but actually to unsuccessfully try to reconcile his beliefs and love for Inez an impossible undertakingBennet was born in 1956 and raised in Belfast After earning a doctorate in history he turned to journalism He has written several screenplays The Catastrophist was chosen as a best book by the LAT in 1999