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~FREE PDF ♪ And the Ass Saw the Angel ♖ Cave S Only Novel To Date Takes On The Southern Gothic In This Bizarre Baroque Tale Born Mute To A Drunken Mother And A Demented Father, Tortured Euchrid Eucrow Finds Compassion In The Family Mule Than In His Fellow Men But He Alone Will Grasp The Cruel Fate Of Cosey Mo, The Beautiful Young Prostitute In The Pink Caravan On Hooper S Hill And It Is Euchrid, Spiraling Ever Deeper Into His Mad Angelic Vision, Who Will Ultimately Redeem Both The Town And Its People Surprising, Remarkable The Atlanta Journal
While not the worst book I ve every had the displeasure of reading , Nick Cave s work here may be the worst that I ve both read and finishedEragonGave up with extreme prejudiceDa Vinci CodeAccidentally left it in an airport bathroom in Denver with eleven pages left and did not care enough to visit the library to see how it endedThe Lovely BonesGranted, I did finish it and it was bad, but it was a shiny, gold plated sliver of heaven compared to And the Ass Saw the Angel, which I was unfortunately compelled to finish.Ah, the joy of being in a book club.The first thing one will notice in Cave s book is that the principal narrator is dense with a lugubrious sort of prose made up in striking part by words that won t be found in any dictionary as they are made up So dense, in fact, is the narration that it stifles to the point of petrification The author himself describes the language as, kind of a hyper poetic thought speak, not meant to be spoken a mongrel language that was part Biblical, part Deep South dialect, part gutter slang, at times obscenely reverent and at others reverently obscene Cave forces the reader to invest a lot of work into deciphering a story that is far too slight to merit the effort And I hate him for that.Well, not really But maybe.In any case, with the exception of the first and last chapters, the entire tale is told in flashback by a single narrator, named Eucrid, using two different voices one fantastical and the other only slightlygrounded in reality Eucrid Euchrow, dying from the start, tells the tales of the divine vengeance he wreaked upon the odd religious community in his isolated Southern town and how he now dies with his glorious work complete What is not at all clear until the last third is whether we should believe any of it Euchrid, a mute from birth, is the product of mentally disabled man and a woman whose only nourishment is the moonshine she stills in their yard He is, to be plain, quite insane.If Cave would have either held personal restraint or kept an editor worththan the cost of a community college education, And the Ass Saw the Angel would have clocked in at novella length of slightlythan a hundred pages and would, by that measure, have made a terse, quirky, intriguing look at madness Instead, Cave shows no wisdom of this kind and remorselessly fills over three hundred pages with a sprawling, cacophonous garble of madness We cannot even say that he explores Euchrid s madness for there is neither consideration nor reflection Only revelry.There were moments when I thought I might have a good if offbeat book in my hands Moments of interpretive joy when it could be realized that things might not be as they seem Pieces of prose that made me think that Cave really did know what he was doing, such as his description of a particular woman as a xylocephalic ogress But such rays of warm and happy light were always and inevitably to be short lived, as Cave would draw the reader, nails scrabbling for some hold on light and sanity and good reading, inexorably back into his drearilous swampfief of monotonating garballations.Not, by any means, recommended I read somewhere that Cave himself doesn t even think the book is any good This would have been good to know three months ago when I started reading this tripe NOTE I really have no justification to say that it isn t beside the fact that I m being generous. If Gabriel Garcia Marquez got knocked up by William Faulkner and birthed a deranged novel that was kept locked up in the basement and beaten daily, it would be And The Ass Saw The Angel I don t normally write reviews, but this book keeps tumbling around in my mind like shoes in a dryer I read a review on here that said and I m paraphrasing that immediately after finishing the book, the reviewer wanted to re read it armed with a battle axe That, I think, is most appropriate given the feelings left with after this book.So, I had originally intended to talk about the book, discuss interpretations and whatnot, what was made meaningful and all that garbage, but I won t I will NOT I will make you work for it, because I had to And I appreciate itthat way.However, for future readers experiencing trouble, I have this advice Let Cave s overwrought, but insidiously beautiful words, and the snarling insanity wash over you, holding onto the word mirror like a life raft, and you just might make it to the end of the novel and be better for it.There That s all you re gettin. One year ago I quit biting my nails a lifelong habit I finally seemed to have rid myself of Last week though I started reading this book and, before turning page 10, I was munching on my fingers again Compulsively no convulsively Such was my reaction to Nick Cave s gorgeous first novel convulsive Didn t Andr Breton write Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all Well, this novel has all the hysterical beauty of a medieval tale told by a hermit gone insane It s an all American mystery told by a devilish Australian My, what a mess I don t even know where to start Let s see David Lynch s disquieting atmospheres.The revolting, grotesque horror of Tobe Hooper s Texas Chainsaw Massacre.J.P Witkin s aesthetics of ugliness and deformity.The heavenly grandeur of William Turner s fiery skies.Victor Hugo s poetics of the Outcast.Naaah, no way I can t compare the violent, visionary, demented mysticism of this masterpiece to anything I know Here s a gem of literature, ladies and gentlemen The title One of the most beautiful titles in the history of literature, at least for me, summing up in six words all the truly iconic power of this book It s an episode of the Old Testament Numbers, 22 23 31 the magus Balaam s ass sees the Angel of the Lord brandishing his sword and is given the power of speech, in order to warn her master of the presence of the holy emissary What the arrogant human being can t see is shown to the humble, dirty, exhausted animal the symbol of any outcast on earth is thus flooded with the light of Heaven This is the canvas on which Nick Cave the Australian frontman of the rock band Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds paints his allegory of spirituality, evil, corruption and redemption.A hellish Southern Gothic landscape.A grotesque protagonist living in a shack surrounded by a junkyardprecisely, Euchrid Eucrow, a dumb kid doomed to undergo any sort of physical and psychological abuse , with a sadistic alcoholic as a mother and a bipolar psycho as a father A life of alienation that soon turns into a messianic obsession as well as plenty of other mental issues and a narrative loquacity of magnificent lyricism the effect is just hilarious in such context A village in the middle of nowhere, in which religious fanaticism, incest, brutality, superstition are all pervading.Sugar cane fields, dusty tracks, rusty tool sheds, rotting carcasses A swamp.Old school preachers gone insane.And a calamitous rain that, just like a biblical plague, strikes the bigoted inhabitants of the once thriving valley, bringing forth three years of squalor, sorrow and madness Then a foundling the daughter of a junky whore Euchrid identifies with his guardian angel and is almost lynched by the mob is rescued in the village, and the Miracle occurs the following day the rain is over and the child is hastily declared to be a Saint, the Almighty s gift to His penitent sons.Only our derelict Zealot knows the child was actually conceived in sin and adultery Year after year Euchrid becomes increasingly obsessed with the girl the Lord himself has entrusted him with the holy task of doing away with the wicked usurper , but in his sick mind the line between hate and desire is quite blurred until his lifelong isolation, sufferings and mental illness eventually take their toll A devastating burst of insanity and mysticism takes place in the most hallucinatory grand finale This is a heartrending black comedy, a mysterious allegory and a tale of cruelty and deranged spirituality, told by a masterful narrator Because Cave s writing is like the artefacts of those barbaric tribes from which I as a northern Italian happen to be descended absolute beauty blooming in monstrosity, gold and gems scattered in the filth This is one of those books in which literature is on a level with visual art Only two examples A thin purple cicatrix emerged from one bushy eyebrow and hooked around his right eye, terminating at a small, latent mole sprouting short, clipped hairs like a fish hook baited with a little black beetle And The new spring moon looked naked, almost brazen in its fullness It was the colour of mah angel s skin, but with a hint of the mistreated in her unblinking majesty, her skin faintly darkened by pale grey bruises It s wonderful It s the kind of talent that makes the English language attain the highest level of its modern literary potential In Cave s prose, a kid spitting on the ground opens up a lurid scenario of microscopical and yet gargantuan geography spit and dust melt and turn into a muddy landslide in front of an ant carrying its cargo of crumbs, stubbornly climbing the tiny impromptu hill standing in its way almost invisible when you re a kid spitting on the ground, high as a mountain when you re an ant carrying a crumb Such is the spellbinding quality of Cave s imagery What follows is one of his gorgeous, expressionist descriptions of the landscape The air turned tactile and red it kinda oozed into mah lungs, soupy and reeking of evilness There in the very blood of the air ah could sense the most hell born forecast, hear the hexes and muttered spells hear the beat of its breath feel its plodding pulse, its pounding This special evil Coming Drumming and this special air tensed to receive it The sky, like my scalp, tightened It had taken the look of a vast membrane that stretched itself, like peeled skin, across the valley to form a roof, sealing in the stuffed light It teemed with a network of intumescent red vessels, tested to capacity by their booming blood I could fill a whole notebook with quotes from this book, and never get enough of them see also the excerpts I picked for my reading updates Further , one must keep in mind that the author is a songwriter hence the amazing rhythm of his prose, an incomparable I dare say Elizabethan musicality, with lots of assonances and even rhymes And the lexicon oh, the lexicon What a fantastic journey through any conceivable territory of knowledge this book is Phocine bodies, murine faces, scalps ridden with pemphigus but also atramental waters, the catoptric surface of a swamp, thespian thunder or thunderama not to mention a zoophyte looking drunkard emerging from a mud pool, a pedophagic mother and, dulcis in fundo, the xylocephalic woman this one has become legendary basically, it s Cave s Greek etymology for blockhead It s a Calasso esque amount of references to any conceivable domain Cave must have kept a whole encyclopedia at hand while writing this novel In fact I found myself cursing like queen Jezebel while checking out, for instance, what the hell a Thysanoptera is well, it s what any other writer in the world calls bug And, hey, do not expect Cave s characters to say any triviality such as I started moving what they do say is, Ah make the space about me open up its wounds They don t scream I ll kill you , oh no, they snarl Ahm gunna tear your head off and shit in your neck They don t recall the good old times , why should they when the most delicate poetry is at hand Ah remember a time of eudemonia , sighs the protagonist And we sigh with him We cry with him We laugh with him, even though Ah knew that sort of laughter all too well Ah was acquainted with the sort of fun it could inspire Out of all the correction that has been dealt mah way, ah cannot remember a solitary time when laughter has not been the battle cry Wow This is Nick Cave, though so, no worries, the reader is also generously provided with plenty of shit, piss, fuck, asshole, cocks cunts and this cacophonic contrast is the very source of our delight.I ve been postponing thid read for years, and I should bash my head against a concrete wall begging for mercy for having been such an idiot Because I ve always sensed this book had ALL I look for in literature and art the Beauty of Outrage and the Outrage of Beauty the horrible, omnipotent Beauty that flourishes where she s supposed to wither, like a flower blooming on a battlefield Fingers down the throat of love , as the song goes.Beware though this book goes deeper down than a finger. Y all, this is a very, very weird one to rate I loved hated it in equal measure and likely would guess most of you would toss it across the room The written turns of phrase are brilliant and inventive and lovely horrible, but the growing insanity is very tough to bear.First, the story is Southern Gothic, and by definition that means we will have at LEAST one mentally ill person in the tale along with dark and bizarre acts There is, of course, a protagonist who we feel for and yet know that something is not right with him Antihero, maybe, is the term for Euchrid the blue eyed baby who is conscious of life from the first hour of his birth.Generally, I won t sum up a book s plot, but because 95% of y all will be smart enough to avoid the story, here goes A boy who is born mute and with a hunched body is born to a moonshine swilling mountain of a woman who is relentless in her abuse to her husband and child The father comes from a seriously inbred lineage, and while he stays with his wife for years until her death, the way he deals with his daily heaping of poison is to trap animals He doesn t intentionally kill these animals but removes them from the traps and places them in a menagerie In this menagerie, the living animals hold battles royale in order to live he watches them like an emperor enjoying gladiators slaughtering others It is the father s bizarre stress relief.These are the people who raise the boy and pass to him their faulty genes.The kid, Euchrid, grows up despised and bullied by the townspeople who are part of a religious sect that relies on signs and prophecies They re intolerant of sinners and will punish those who break their moral code.Over the years, a beautiful child of prophecy is born in this town and found at the feet of their statue of a vengeful angel her wings alight and hand holding a scythe Euchrid, now older and growerinsane over the years, believes this young girl and he have a connection She is believed to be divine, but only he knows better They are bound for a collision.Okay, triggers Animal abuse And animal abuse Rape Beatings Oh, and also some animal abuse Mounting insanity.As someone who has had two spoiled dogs and two worthless cats sleeping in the bed with her for the past 38 years live ones, not remains like we find in this book , I was able to distance myself from this portion Remember the commercial that went ITS ONLY A MOVIE ITS ONLY A MOVIE ITS ONLY A MOVIE Yeah, that s my highly technical psychological trick to get past this kind of stuff In a million years, I wouldn t have read this except our small reading group here in GR has had each of us nominate stuff that nobody but we weirdo serious readers would enjoy discussing Our dear buddy Kirk Smith passed away before this, his nomination, came up on our schedule Like darling, quirky Kirk I loved this But ah ain t never readin it again Excerpts below Mummy was a swine A scum c nted likkered up brain sick swine She was lazy and slothful and dirty and belligerent and altogether evil Mom was a soak, a drunk, a piss eyed hell bag with a taste for the homebrew The air had turned tactile and tinted red it stuffed the valley thickly and there was an electricness about it that crackled inside my head like paper It kinda oozed this air oozed into my lungs, soupy and reeking of evilness And ah could see it ah could see it rolling across every crag and crack, every knurl and knoll, every ridge, each ditch, every hill and hole, through groves of cottonwoods, each knotted chine, the knitted boles of the killing vine, each impressed dent and darksome hollow, every glen, gully, gulch, gorge, gill, glade, gallow even this very fen, and ah expect this bog yes, this suck, the darkling quag Humming softly with the child asleep in his arms, Sardus Swift looked to the winking stars and saw the moon a smirk on the face of heaven as he made his way home Listen, ah don t wanna speak ill of the dead but have ah told you that may mother was a great whopping whale of a c nt Well she was precisely that a great whopping whale of a hog s c nt with a dry black maggot for a brain Fireworks hissed and spat aloft Heaven s darkening vault was scoured by whistling jets of spark Catherine wheels spun, gushing lurid sprays Sky rockets, spewing fire, tore the night sky with their blazing egress Wicks fizzed Bangers exploded Smoke and blue sparks filled the air Children stood in mute wonderment, gazing at the circus of spectral showers above, their gawping faces reflecting, in shouts of colour, all the crackling mischief of the cope A spirit lamp hung in the doorway, throwing a ragged blanket of copper light about the room and spilling the remainder out on to the porch Every winged bug in a night s flight clamoured in the doorway in a frenzy of death stupid gnats knocking their brains out to enter the bright eye The floor beneath was littered with their singed corpses The room droned with their madness This is one of my favorite novels I have to recommend it with a string of caveats, however The writing is gloriously, indulgently, and shamelessly overwrought If you go in for clean, crisp prose, you ll probably hate this It is also an incredibly grim book, but with a wicked and sometimes viciously dark sense of humor throughout this is Nick Cave, after all.The novel s protagonist is a character named Euchrid Euchrow, a physically deformed and mentally deranged mute living in the fictional backwoods town of Ukulore He struggles to find some solace and acceptance in the small town, which is mostly within the grip of the Ukulite religious sect similar to the American evangelist cults from which spring handling of snakes and laying on of hands.The outlook is grim and harsh, but it s an exquisite sort of pain I think I read this book cover to cover in a day, as I recall, but that was about eight years ago I will try to find time to read it again, soon.Anyway, there you go The novel is insane, grim, and overwrought If that sounds like your cup of tea, and you don t mind a slightly self indulgent author, do read this. To say that I m giving this book 5 stars based on the fact of how much I enjoyed it, would be a lie The book had a really weak start and a pretty damn weak plot In my one, dumb, humble opinion the books is aiight Yes, here comes the big but BUT There were 2 things I fucking loved about this book 1 The addition of a new kick ass word to my cool as hell words list the word Fornicatrix, which according to a dictionary means a woman who engages in Fornication I fucking love that word When I read it on the bus, I remember thinking, FUCK, WHY DIDN T I KNOW THAT WORD followed by a maniacal laughter and saying, That s hot So, there is one extra star now the second reason.2 I was sitting on the Q11 when a couple of kids proly like 12 or 14 years old started laughing at the title of the book I usually avoid kids like an earthworm avoids the shore But I couldn t help myself there At the beginning of the book there is excerpt from Numbers 22 and the ass saw an angel so I decided to open that page and pass it to one of the kids I said, Here s where the title comes from this Bible passage and they both started reading it and laughing and I felt so cool When they were done he passed me the book back and said, That was funny, thank you Now as a fast food worker, I don t usually get a chance to give people cool shit to read but this time I got away with it I made this 2 kids read something funny about the most read book in history that made me feel great So there you have it Mr Cave I think you books is like your music just ok nothing extraordinary and yet you get 5 starts cuz now I have onekick ass word added to my vocabulary and I also had the chance to teach something funny and cool to a couple of kids It has been nearly a decade since I first read this, and it was probably the first Southern Gothic that I read It does still hold up and is in fact in good company as one of the most gruesome in the category I place it next to The Devil all the Time by Donald Ray Pollock and also Child of God by Cormac McCarthy and that is among very good company indeed One interesting thing I noticed is that while many readers placed it in the Southern Gothic style, the majority placed it in Horror This is in fact true for all three books Among the most hardcore of the style, I found it mildly humorous and would even call it charming. Sleazy, profane, literate, violent, bloated, verbose, apocalyptic, excessive, dense, touching, rhythmic, grotesque, reverent, And the Ass Saw the Angel tells the terrible tragicomedy that is the short and weird and wild on top life of Euchrid Eucrow a backwoods outcast born with the divine gift of an angelical purpose that is compounded with an absurdly articulate mental life that goes unappreciated and, ultimately, unchecked by his hypocritical zealot neighbors on account of Euchrid being born a mute, the repercussions of which bubble and boil over in a biblically horrendous finale with some deliciously deviant implications This novel was everything this particular Cavehead and Southern Gothic aficionado could hope for and so much muchThe wonderful lyricist by day Nick Cave may be an Aussie but he gets the Southern Gothic novel whether or not you want to waste your morning worrying over the authenticity of the dialect that Cave playfully gives to the narrator Like Elizabethan theater and Greek Mythology, the Southern Gothic yarn is the U.S s answer to the tradition of the grand and theatrical, those bloody moral dramas that are such a universal linchpin in this rickshaw of a human condition we all share on this dilapidated vivarium of a planet Is this a great book No There is zero restraint on display, and one doesn t have a hard time imagining Cave s editing process involved shooting up heroin and then nodding off in the corner of his England flat Be that as it may, this shaggy rabid dog of a novel is a treasure for admirers of the dark corners of bad people s hearts, and for lovers of experimental tinged prose relax, it won t kill you, you pansies that swoops, swells, slobbers, ruts, belches and yawps across the page Like nearly every damn one of Cave s songs especially in the 80 s throughout the early 90 s Cave wrestles themes such as GOD and LOVE and MURDER, and the results are finger licking good.BONUS FEATURESHere s my custom made playlist of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to accompany your reading of this book Up Jumped the Devil Curse of Millhaven God is in the House Get Ready For Love Saint Huck Well of Misery Into My Arms Papa Won t Leave You Henry Witness Song I think this just isn t my thing On some sort of word sentence level I m admiring it, it reads a bit like music Lots of people have called it indulgent, and that s a fair cop surely The language, the style, the unusual words, the gothic floridness But it has a uniformity of the bizarre that makes this dull after a while David Katzman confessed that having read it a while back, the details are no longer with him, just an idea of the creepiness That sums up the impact for me But I feel like it could make a powerful movie, it is very VERY visual.Nick Cave said recently that he should have set it in Australia, it s quintessentially Australian Can anybody else see that I ve tried and been found wanting if that s the case m moving on, having read the first 60 pages or so but I can t help feeling I ve let the author down and that it deservedfrom me Maybe it s one to be revisited in the right mood.