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A Bright Moon for Fools by Jasper Gibson

A Bright Moon for Fools

by Jasper Gibson

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Jasper Gibson's debut novel is a gentle caper, a measured romp, an amusing and original yarn about an aging eccentric Englishman on the run in Venezuela. Outwardly, he’s grouchy and offensive, but he has a broken heart and a poet’s eye for beauty. His boorishness is mostly a function of his vanity wrestling to suppress persistent underlying grief. There are moments of hilarity, despicable cruelty, sadness, amorousness, tension, romance, excitement, and fun. Overall, it’s a very enjoyable read.

There are occasions in the second half of the book where it verges on the over-written (one sentence early in Chapter forty-four is madly incoherent about rain and regions of the sky), but I generally took the occasional poetic description of some Venezuelan scenes as an expression of part of the protagonist’s character. He regards himself as intellectually and culturally superior to others, and it would be consonant with that for him to be inclined to occasionally lose himself in a poetic appreciation of his surroundings or an existential moment. His late wife’s book of poetry that he carries throughout hints at a mindset they probably would have held in common. This tendency ought to have been seeded earlier in the story a few times, though, as it seems to come out of nowhere halfway through and I almost felt I was reading a different book.

The mood, though, is generally comic and fun, and it’s pleasant to spend time in the main character’s company. I’ve seen a critic complain that it seems too incongruous to have occasions of sexual crime (in the later parts of the story) because the overall tone is comic. I don’t think that’s fair. The book is about the process of the protagonist’s deconstruction, which begins with him careening along, avoiding grief, danger, and debts with his grouchy humour, but that avoidance leads to ever worsening crises, until… well, let’s just say the humour naturally dissipates.

Gibson gives us an amusing little true story in the back, too, as a bonus. I like his writing. I like his gentle humour and strong voice, and for the vast majority of the time the writing is of good quality. I look forward to his next novel to see how he’s developed and where he’ll take us next.

My rating is 4.0 because the vision is grand, the spirit is strong, the fun is generous, and the humanity is there. ( )
  MatthewJamesHunt | Dec 11, 2015 |
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"Harry Christmas is unable to cope with the death of his wife and has been bouncing from one bad decision to the next. After a terrifying assault by the son of a woman he has conned, he makes up his mind to leave the country. Now Harry Christmas is on the run. On a mission to track down his wife's ancestral village, Christmas arrives in Venezuela certain that his fortunes are about to improve. He's dead wrong. Soon out of money and luck, he is forced into yet more deceit--with devastating consequences for those he has fooled. Lost, drunk, and lurching across rural Venezuela, Christmas reaches the point of breakdown. He wakes up in a village at the end of the world. He is hanging by one leg from a tree. Inspired by the mighty Lola Rosa, he tries to crawl out of his spiritual abyss and find a way to live amongst these fishermen and farmers--but love isn't easy when you are a career liar still married to the dead. As the real trouble begins, can redemption survive? Published in the UK to great acclaim, A Bright Moon for Fools is a comic novel that is as funny as it is heartbreaking. Jasper Gibson's debut marks the arrival of a bold new voice in fiction"--… (more)

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