Patrick Holland reviews 'Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria: A novel in thirty-four cantos' by Brian Castro

Patrick Holland reviews 'Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria: A novel in thirty-four cantos' by Brian Castro

Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria: A novel in thirty-four cantos

by Brian Castro

Giramondo, $26.95 pb, 224 pp, 9781925336221

Lucien Gracq, the hero of Brian Castro’s verse novel Blindness and Rage, wishes to be a writer, though he has written only love letters to women, which achieved tragicomic results, or none at all. When Gracq retires from his job as a town planner in Adelaide, it seems he will have the time and freedom to write the epic he has dreamed of, but he is diagnosed with terminal cancer and given fifty-three days to live, enough time, perhaps, to compose something worthwhile. But Gracq must overcome a more fundamental problem: he is terrified of leaving his mark upon the blank page, and on the world.

Gracq moves to Paris and joins a secret society of experimental writers Le club des fugitifs, who erase their names from their works, bequeathing them to others so as to reject the tyranny of authorship: both the distorting fame it bestows upon the writer, and the misinterpretation of texts it invites: ‘plagiarism in reverse’ says the group’s leader, Georges Crêpe (the surname an anagram for Perec), ‘to provide a cleansing service before oblivion’.

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Patrick Holland

Patrick Holland

Patrick Holland is the author of five books, including The Mary Smokes Boys (2010), longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for the Age Book of the Year. His work has appeared in the UK, Ireland, Canada, the USA and Japan. His most recent novel is The Darkest Little Room (2012), a thriller set in Saigon.

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