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The Course of the Heart by M. John Harrison

The Course of the Heart (1992)

by M. John Harrison

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239548,266 (3.43)8
  1. 00
    Mefisto by John Banville (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Potent short novels with enthralling imagery, in which the protagonist's experiences with magic have equivocal results.

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A sad story, beautifully-told in true M. John Harrison style. It was interesting reading this just after Things That Never Happen because familiar sentences, paragraphs, even entire short stories were woven into the novel. In that new context, they sometimes took on entirely different meanings. Something like Winter's Tale and something like Umberto Eco. ( )
1 vote wirehead | Jul 9, 2013 |
Fantasy's potential for escape, or for mere escapism, or for nothing in particular, is examined through the lives of four would-be escapists. Harrison's Imagist-like prose ensures the novel with keep you aesthetically pleased even as he repeatedly crushes your hopes beneath his heel. A refreshingly indirect novel, in every possible sense. ( )
  Longshanks | Jul 24, 2012 |
This is a beautifully worded book, very descriptive and evocative. The story is based on an occurance that is never fully explained, but that affects the characters' day-to-day experience for the rest of their lives. I can't say I enjoyed the story, but the way it was written made it easy to read. ( )
  carmelitasita29 | Oct 24, 2009 |
This poetical book tells of Pam and Lucas, who the nameless narrator knows from their time in Cambridge. Something mystical happened back then - none of them remembers what, but whatever happened, left deep scars. There's also the strange Yaxley, who has something to do with this all.

Pam and Lucas obsess about Cœur, a lost kingdom, and the destinies of its heirs. There's also Pleroma, existing and not existing, yet worthy of plenty of effort to find.

The narrator observers the stormy relationship between Pam and Lucas, sometimes mediating between the couple. The book is full of mysteries and sometimes quite hard to figure out, but the beautiful language Harrison uses is worth the efforts. Mystical, yet enchanting book.

(Original review at my review blog.) ( )
1 vote msaari | Jan 3, 2008 |
Less gratuitiously unpleasant than Light, and I think much more successful. My central complaint about Light is that the spectacular disfunction of the characters is both too extreme in specifics and is trivialised by the too-clever plot that ties them together. In similar fashion the various characters of The Course of the Heart are variously damaged by an encounter with something beyond their comprehension, but where in Light they respond with murder and other forms of flagrant disfunction, in The Course of the Heart their differing breakdowns are less generic and more private.

Light only came clean about its plotline at the end, and in doing so made its themes relatively clear as well. We know from very early in The Heart how the characters are connected, but the specifics of their experience remains unrecoverable. The narrator is constantly chewing over and reconsidering theme, the stories he and his friends tell themselves to try to understand (and, increasingly desperately, to try to restrain and control) what is happening to them. But Harrison refuses to define the Pleroma and the events of their contact with it, and that mystical incomprehensibility is in the end far more satisfying than the neat-and-tidy resolution of Light. ( )
2 vote tikitu-reviews | Oct 28, 2007 |
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