Bookshots: ‘The Captive Condition’ By Kevin P. Keating
Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review
The Captive Condition
Who wrote it?
Novelist and Essayist, Kevin P. Keating
Plot in a Box:
Edmund Campion is a Jesuit scholar whose thesis is torn to shreds by his advisor, Dr. Kingsley, and in his heartbreak, he drops out of school and becomes a groundskeeper. Meanwhile, Kingsley’s pill popping, booze loving, married girlfriend, Emily Ryan, drowns in a pool. Was the drowning an accident? A suicide? A murder? Who knows? And to be blunt, who cares, because plot is kind of a secondary thing in The Captive Condition. Because, honestly, you’re just going to want to stick around for the weirdness.
Invent a new title for this book:
Read this if you liked:
Pretty much anything by Thomas M. Disch and Laird Barron.
Meet the book’s lead(s):
Edmund Campion, promising Jesuit scholar turned groundskeeper/janitor.
Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:
If I had a time machine, Edmund Campion would be played by a young John Hawkes. But since I don't have power over space and time, Dane DeHaan would fit the roll nicely.
Setting: would you want to live there?
Normandy Falls (which I think is located somewhere in Ohio?) is a weird, depressing little town full of weird depressing people, so no.
What was your favorite sentence?
From the corner I could see the dented church steeple. It looked like a hypodermic needle pricking the white rump of the sky. Its syringe filled with windy hymns and diluted sermons that failed to inoculate the town against a divesting plague of sin.
I like weird. No, actually, I love weird. If a book contains quirky Lynchian characters, occult ritualism, and en masse drug usage, generally speaking, I’m in. Luckily, The Captive Condition contains all of this in spades. Every character would be right at home in a Lynch film. But don’t get me wrong, even though I’ve mentioned Lynch twice in the same paragraph (and now a third time.), The Captive Condition isn’t a rip off of a David Lynch film (now four times), because Kevin P. Keating has created a wholly original and intriguing universe in the bizarre world of Normandy Falls.
I’ll be blunt, when I started reading The Captive Condition, I really expected to not like it. Keating’s prose style is a bit gothic (okay, “a bit” is an understatement) and reminded a little too much of Thomas Ligotti or H.P. Lovecraft. The language at times seemed a little too formal and stiff, but as the book progresses, the language actually lends itself to the blacker than graveyard dirt humor of the novel.
As with most novels, movies, television shows, etc., The Captive Condition isn’t going to be for everyone. If the lighter side of death and depravity isn’t your thing, you should probably steer clear of it, but for everyone else who digs sharply written satire with a bit of a gruesome and unsettling edge, you’re going to really enjoy The Captive Condition.
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