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An Answer from Limbo – Brian Moore

 
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Posted September 1, 2016 by

An Answer from Limbo – Brian Moore – 1962

an-answer-from-limbo-brian-moore

Reviewed by: D.W. Cymbalisty         Date: 22 July 2001

This is undoubtedly my favorite Brian Moore novel and I have read almost all of them that are here listed at the readliterature site. He is (was) such a fabulous writer, but there is something about this book that just goes beyond any of his others. And the strange thing to me is that it is not easy to obtain. Mine had to be purchased used. It was not a “bestseller” as is so often not synonymous with “best-written”! Do what you have to do to get your hands on An Answer From Limbo.

 limboThis is the story of Brendan Tierney, a 29 year old would-be-famous writer, presently employed at a banal magazine in New York City. He “knows” that there is a great novel inside of him, just waiting to get out. (Incidentally, I feel the same way, maybe that’s why I like this story so much). One day, an aquaintance of Brendan’s achieves literary acclaim for a novel that he’s written, and Brendan feels that his friend is unworthy of this success, especially as he compares this man’s ability with his own. This spurs Brendan on to no limit of sacrificial endeavours to achieve his own literary goals. To free up his writing time, he ships his mother (from Ireland) into the spare bedroom to tend to the children, and his wife takes a job to support this changing bohemian lifestyle. It is not long before everyone around him begins to realize that nothing and no-one will stand in the way of his obsession, and Brendan has to consider what price he is willing to pay for his ruthlessness.

A poignant example of Brendan’s complete deterioration is seen when, at his own mother’s funeral, he can only contemplate how the scene would be felt by one of his fictional characters. He has become detached from himself… and another appropriate title for this book could be something like… “What Price Greatness?”

For all his sacrifice, does Brendan ever achieve greatness? Well, that is the most searing iron tong that prods itself towards the eye that’s already injured. My reader-friends, this is an under-rated, under-read book that shows Brian Moore at his unparalleled greatness, and the writing and characterization is superb in every way. I, being of sound mind, fling out five stars without remorse or wavering.


ReadLit Team

 


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