The Insult

The Insult

3.0 2
by Rupert Thomson
     
 

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"We are in the dark side of the brain—full of grief and deliciously strange comedy. I've never read anything like it."
—Michael Ondaatje

With this eerie, provocative, and utterly original novel, Rupert Thomson takes the psychological thriller into unexplored territory. Martin Blom is walking toward his car in a supermarket parking lot when

Overview

"We are in the dark side of the brain—full of grief and deliciously strange comedy. I've never read anything like it."
—Michael Ondaatje

With this eerie, provocative, and utterly original novel, Rupert Thomson takes the psychological thriller into unexplored territory. Martin Blom is walking toward his car in a supermarket parking lot when a single random bullet pierces his brain. From that moment he is blind—his doctor says permanently. But then one evening Martin discovers what is either a genuine miracle or a delusion suffered occasionally by the newly blind: in the dark, he can see.

Armed with this ambiguous gift, Thomson's protagonist enters a nocturnal world of strip clubs and sleazy hotels. In that world, an alluring young woman may give herself to the one man she thinks is unable to see her, only to vanish inexplicably. In that world, a blind man may become a murder suspect. And in the gorgeously disorienting world of The Insult, reality itself is a consensual hallucination. And you succumb to it at your own risk.  

"Reads like an unholy collaboration between Oliver Sacks and Edgar Allan Poe."  —Time Out

"Thomson is a master stylist, a virtuoso of the hallucinatory image, a writer with a dark vision and a bright future."  —Washington Post

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A blind man is suspected of murder. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Martin Blom, the victim of a random shooting in a city parking lot, is permanently blinded, but during his recovery he becomes convinced that he has night vision and alters his life accordingly. Thus begins a darkly amusing psychological thriller that propels a blind man headlong into the predawn haunts of a teeming metropolis where reality and fantasy merge in a world seen by Martin alone. But in his private world of borderline reality, Nina is flesh and blood, and it is Martin's obsession for her that ultimately forces him to acknowledge his blindness in a situation that has become dead serious. In his previous novels (e.g., Air and Fire, LJ 11/15/93), Thomson proved himself to be master of the surreal. This compelling mix of descriptive imagery and storytelling should strengthen his reputation as a weaver of readable tales and insure his place among England's best young writers. For most fiction collections.Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Kirkus Reviews
A feverishly imagined tale of a blind man who develops night vision and uses it to search for a vanished lover, this is a surpassingly bleak and defiantly illogical study of obsession from the highly touted Thomson (Air and Fire, 1994, etc.).

In a Kafkaesque transformation, Martin Blom awakens in a hospital bed, blind after being struck in the head by a stray bullet while carrying groceries to his car—a blindness that his neurosurgeon says is permanent. Morris's disbelief and self-pity are normal responses, but when he discovers to his wonder that he can see—in the dark—his life assumes a new, furtive meaning. He breaks completely with his past, including parents and fiancée, to embrace a nocturnal existence, moving in secret to a disreputable hotel in the heart of the city and making friends with other equally odd creatures of the night. The mysterious Nina enters his life, fulfilling his wildest sexual fantasies. But she breaks with him, then disappears, when she discovers his peculiar powers of sight, leaving a heartbroken Martin under suspicion of foul play. In desperation, and increasingly certain that he's serving as some bizarre sort of guinea pig for his neurosurgeon (his night vision is suddenly replaced by nonstop TV broadcasts in his head), he digs into Nina's past and visits her distant hometown. There, safe from the police, and from the TV signals, Martin settles into a rundown spa and is treated by an elderly woman to an extraordinary tale of incest, retardation, and gruesome violence. Martin and Nina are, it turns out, but the latest victims of the train of events set in motion by the woman's youthful transgression.

The pieces of this grim saga remain just that: Vivid fragments in a pattern that fails to cohere. But there is nonetheless a dark, hugely suggestive power at work here, cumulatively having the visceral impact of a nightmare.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679781509
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/01/1997
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
644,397
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.90(d)

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The Insult 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Insult is like a breath of fresh air. A twisty, weird tale. Like nothing you've read before. You gotta love Blom and the odyssey he undertakes! Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really got into the themes of finding identity and truth; however, the ending just dissapointed me on a whole. Things were unresolved, elements from the begining were missing, and it sort of left me with a feeling of hopelessness which i don't find appealing at all. If Thomson could have found some other way to tie everything together, my opinion of the novel would be much more positive.