Gritty and rather good, 2 Mar. 2017 By G H Neale Verified Purchase
This review is from: The Mourning After (Kindle Edition)
‘The Mourning After’ is an angst-ridden tale; one which we sense, primarily, serves as a cathartic release for the author. We read of his childhood, youthful years and eventually maturity, where he gains successful employment as a lecturer in English Literature. Throughout, there is a ribbon of despair that seems to dominate his direction rather than bless it with decoration. That ribbon is his father, a man psychologically broken by his involvement in the Vietnam War, a man who takes out with cruel enmity, his rage and his inbred violence upon the author’s family.
So what can we enjoy here: the stark language, the brutality? Well, possibly not. What remains important is possibly summarised at the end where Bivona criticises warfare, all warfare; and this is of course quite valid. This is what is being said. To quote: “Like I said, it’s a tragedy. And it’s not fair.”
The novella is punctuated with epigrammatic poems which offer both a relief to the harrowing short chapters and an embellishment of the overall theme. Out of a giant block of hardened stone these are little niches the author has carved for our assistance. These work well.
But it does not look forward to a hopeful future. It merely states, in a journalistic way, how homelife was for one man at one time. “This was how it was for me,” it seems to say. Whilst I had a fairly easy upbringing it is only through reading material like this that I gain an understanding of ghosts and devils that others need to purge. Yes, there is a sense of exorcism in this and it remains unclear as to whether the author does actually make it ‘to the other side’. I liked this lack of conclusion. However conjoined with this theme ‘The Mourning After’ is also Bivona’s peon to his father. He knows that what he does is not his fault. This novella is also an apology to him.
There are some typographical errors and peculiarities of design, organisation and layout, which initially seem to jar, and yet these asperities of form, in a strange way, re-enforce the roughness of bitter frustration. The book is made all the better for these, not worse. Note what I said about the roughness of form earlier.
So, grit your teeth and buy this. It is not a happy tale but it is about as real as it gets, sadly for some only too real.