Re I m not always nraptured with metaliterary jokes but there s a very good one at the nd of this one about the difficulty of nding a novel which may also be something of a literary true confession if Pure is anything to go by I found myself wondering whether there was something metaliterary going on also in the Lestrade Dyer relationship Do novelists need to possess both the cold forensic ye of pre crisis Dyer and the warm mpathizing sensibility of Lestrade If so I think Miller has the balance near perfect in this first novel I wonder whether he has ver found it since A little disappointing The first half or two thirds is uite ngrossing and it s very well written although I wouldn t go so far as to say dazzling or The Deepest Sin extraordinary as the critics on the cover proclaim but it just didn t donough for me I don t think the characters in general and the main character in particular are fleshed out nough and the story doesn t do an awful lot It doesn t impart much in the way of wisdom or insight or offer any fresh or surprising perspectives If I d discovered it by accident I might have liked it but as I found it through the Guardian s list of 1000 books you have to read as the praise for it is so high and as the concept holds so much promise my xpectations were very high Unfortunately they weren t uite met Mid 5 This is a sublime achievement for a debut novel as Miller has not only created a tour de force of historical fiction but has also captured the ssence of the period of the Enlightenement with on the one hand its heady mix of scientific nuiry and heightened awareness of the wider world to be xplored and on the other the underlying cruelty and barbarity which still anchored society to the superstitions and practices of gthe past James Dyer is a masterful creation with which to vividly bring the contradictions of this age to life As such the singular capacity of being insensate to pain with which he is ither blessed or cursed is shrouded in the shadowy details surrounding his birth and yet nables him to distinguish himself in the pursuit of medical advancement Thus the reader is able to accompany him through the fantastic and ghoulish worlds of the travelling uack and private collector of freakish curiosities the bawdry colourful atmosphere of ighteenth century Georgian England the blood and gore faced by the naval surgeon the anatomical and surgical practices of the medical professionals of the day and the court of Catherine the Great of Russia His clinical detachment has allowed him to become so renowned that he is invited to participate in a cross continent race to be the first to treat the magisterial Russian mpress At the nd of this odyssey Dyer meets the mysterious Maria with magical healing powers who teaches him love and therefore pain As he xperieneces the passions and torments he was once shielded from he becomes mortal and capable of redemption Very Interesting Premise Interesting Characters Historically Well Written But the nding and the relationships between the characters were a bit disappointing to meThere were parts of this novel that I really njoyed the author is clearly talented He creates vivid images some memorable characters and moves the story along at a brisk pace It was only in the fleshing out of the motional relationships between his characters that I found myself wanting for James Dyer cannot feel pain can not Snowflakes on the Sea empathize with others pain When James is very young he leaves his home and travels with Marley Gummer duping country folk into buying what they don t need and what won t help them Heventually becomes a successful surgeon never distracted by his own Wrathful Chaos: Five Books of Satanic Philosophy emotions or those of his patients He travels to Russia and meets the Empress Catherine and a woman who changes him Mary is rud to be a witch and James changes after he meets her he suddenly feels disappointment pain suffering and loveFor the most part I thought it was well done interesting and annjoyable read but it wasn t the most satisfying read I wished happiness for James and I would have liked greater insight into the relationship between James and Mary It reminded me of other dark stories A Prayer For the Dying by Stuart O Nan Asylum by Patrick McGrath and House of Sight and Shadow by Nicholas Griffin There is a certain similar flavor among those novels If you liked any of those you might like this as well Not xactly a title that says pick me up and buy me but nevertheless a very richly detailed novel set in 18th century England one that really made me feel what it must have been like to be alive then Too many beautifully worded descriptions to repeat here but here s one on a new born calf A glorious sight The cow s xpanse of tongue licking the calf and the calf itself trembling delicately stunned by its passage into the air The story is about a man who is born without the ability to feel pain and who has absolutely no mpathy for others He is xtremely intelligent As a young boy he leaves what is left of his family after a smallpox Humanism: The Greek Ideal and its Survival epidemic becomes a side show freak then part of a collection of freaks assembled by an important scientist then a ship s surgeon in the navy then a highly successful doctor and finally a madman and a tramp after meeting a mysterious gypsy woman who somehow makes him likeveryone lse The book opens with a grotesue autopsy on his corpse the rest is back story Some very sympathetically drawn characters but I never really got where the story was going or understood why it was written in the first place There were some solecisms using lie instead of lay the reverse of the usual mistake and sit instead of set Miller also used discomforted when I m almost certain he meant discomfited On the other hand thanks to his to me odd usage I looked up pragmatic in Johnson s dictionary and found th. Es through the ranks of Georgian society to become a brilliant surgeon Yet as a human being he fails for he can no feel love and comp.
This isn t technically a review because I m afraid I abandoned the book about a third of the way through I just couldn t finish it I bought it on the strength of the author s novel Pure which I thoroughly njoyed and which fascinated me on a intellectual level and moved me The Fix emotionally There was a main character I could identify with and a plot that had tension For me both of those were missing from this bookThis book has won prizes I can see that it does have beautiful prose but I wanted something I can see too that it does portray aspects of C18th life and for some that may be interestnough For me neither of these aspects can compensate for a non compelling story I can see that if you take the book as a whole which I can t but I ve read the reviews so I know how it nds there is a major degree of development in the character and plot towards the nd but there wasn t nough plot in the foreground to keep me reading and I got bored waitingApart from the flatness of the story I have problems with the main character He is strange He is conceived in a strange way His strangeness is stated but never xplained at least in the parts I managed to read I was unwilling to accept this I wanted convincing And I can see that the character s Desire in Seven Voices emotional isolation and lack ofngagement may have been a deliberate ploy on behalf of the author to reflect his separation from the society around him but it also had the ffect of me being able to keep him at arms length Without a gripping plot I was content to leave the C18th detail and the beautiful prose and let him be And did you get what you wanted from this lifeeven so I didAnd what did you want To call myself beloved to feel myself beloved on arth Raymond CarverI have to agree with a few other people and say that it s a combo of historical fiction and fantasy The The Casa Mono Cookbook ending was a bit sudden and disappointing but overall Injoyed it Lyrical and sometimes grim I think I was first alerted to Andrew Miller as a novelist when I read admiring reviews of Ingenious Pain his first novel but I somehow didn t get round to reading the book instead I read a couple of his later books Oxygen and the highly acclaimed Pure On the basis of these I was developing a notion of Miller as someone who promises much but somehow doesn t uite deliver Pure has outrageously good subject matter for a historical novel and would make a memorable levator pitch it also contains some superb writing and vokes the grisly world of Les Innocents in a manner that I found simultaneously ghostly and visceral not an asy combination to pull off It sticks in my mind ighteen months or so after I read it which is why I decided finally to give Ingenious Pain a try Yet I finished Pure with a feeling of slight frustration I felt Miller had created a truly wondrous novelistic scenario and then not uite known what to do with it None of the characters really ngaged or convinced me and there was a great deal in both plot and characterization that seemed contrived Ingenious Pain I liked much I didn t think it was flawless what novel is but it s a wonderful read Some critics have pointed out that it is derivative of Suskind s Perfume The Story of a Murderer in respect of its setting and subject matter but I don t have any problem with that Novels don t have to be absolutely original thematically They just have to be good Ingenious Pain has a somewhat picaresue uality recalling novels in the period it is set mid ighteenth century We follow its hero or anti hero James Dyer born without the capacity for feel pain through a series of successive life Lachlan's Protg (English Edition) episodesach with a or less distinctive cast list of surrounding characters his childhood in a small Somerset village his time as a fairground freak xploited by a conman his time as the captive of a wealthy collector with sinister scientific interests a period as a fashionable doctor in Bath tc Only fairly late in the novel when we recoup a set of characters from the opening seuence set after Dyer s death does this linear paratactic structure yield to something unified and integrated This can be a tricky structure to manage for a modern novelist since there s always the danger that he will lose his readers along the way while making the transition to a new pisode or scenario Ingenious Pain avoids this risk though or I found it did since the uality of the writing is so consistently xcellent that it waltzes you through the transitions It is almost miraculous at points I tend towards the fast and furious as a reader but there were all kinds of sentences that stopped me in my tracks There s also an lement of suspense as the older version of the Dyer character we meet at the beginning of the novel is so different from his younger incarnation that we are lured into reading on to discover how this metamorphosis is realized Both these factors took me through the only part of the novel that I found less convincing a brief pistolary Conflict in Blood episode constructed to whisk us through a portion of Dyer s life Miller clearly did not want to narrate in detail I wasn t a great fan of a laterpisode set in Bedlam but that was a matter of personal taste than a drop in the uality of the writingAlthough there is some magnificent writing in the childhood pisode and in a tour de force description of Catherine the Great s palace in St Petersburg I think the parts of the novel I liked best were those set in Devon at the beginning and the nd of the novel The character of Julius Lestrade is uite wonderful he s an The Crucified Ones: Calling Forth the End-Time Remnant effective foil to Dyer as sensible in theighteenth century sense as Dyer is insensible but to my mind at least he transcended his role in the novel s play of ideas I wouldn t have thought on the basis of the other novels I had read by Miller that he was capable of creating such a believable and ngaging figu. At the dawn of the Enlightenment James Dyer is born unable to feel pain A source of wonder and scientific curiosity as a child he ris.
At in the 18th century it meant meddling busy in other peoples business without leave Hard to imagine that in only 75 years it developed its present meaning But Miller s sometimes beautiful sometimes grotesue always rich descriptions never added up to a whole for me I was not impressed I did not like any of the characterswhich I guess is not a problem in and of itself if they are all supposed to be bad I thought some of the vents in the book that were uite important to James Dyer the major protagonist in the novel were fantastical and dealt with so briefly that I was not sold and dampened by Logic, Labels, And Flesh enthusiasm for this book The premise was interestinga person who could not feel pain And those people doxist in real life it s a cursethey die at an Dialogue: Relationships in Graphic Design early ageI just don t have anything really positive to say about this book I am so damn stubborn and cannot do a DNF this would have been the book to do itIt won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction 1997 the International Dublin Literary Award 1999 and the Italian Premio Grinzane Cavour prize for a foreign language novel 1999 The novel was also listed on the New York Times Notable Books of the Year for 1997 So I guess I am an outlier Nothing new thereReviews I recently heard an interview with Andrew Miller on the radio he was speaking about his last book Pure which was just published here in translation He was an interesting andlouent speaker and got me interested in reading his book but then I remembered about Ingenious Pain and that I ve had this book on my shelf for over four yearsI m glad that I heard this interview as it reminded me of why I became interested in this author and why I bought this book in the first place Ingenious Pain is Andrew Miller s debut but you wouldn t guess it from reading it This is a very well written novel The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths even lyrical at moments and does a great job at conveying the atmosphere and language of theighteenth century in which it is set and the mood of its various locales with the developing ideas of science and the uietly present belief in magic Ingenious Pain begins at the Modeling and Analysis of Communicating Systems end with an autopsy of its main character James Dyer Through a post mortem dissection of his body his former friends want to understand his curious and incredible condition the total inability to feel physical pain The novel then backtracks in time non linearly through Dyer s life from his strange and disturbing conception his beginnings as a freak who is immune to pain his own and that of others and his rise as a surgeon Dyer is cold and indifferent towards and uncaring for his patients but talented and andffective in his work which gains him an international renown and will lead him through the murky and cold lands of central and Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice eastern Europe to the depths of Russia where he will serve the Empress herself and will meet a woman who will prove to be his ultimate curse and salvation What does the world need most a good ordinary man or one who is outstanding albeit with a heart of ice is asked by one of Dyer s friends late in the book and stands at its center what makes a man How can a person be than a total sum of their organs Ingenious Pain is a lingeringvocative book and one I m glad to have finally read and now I look forward to reading of Andrew Miller s work James Dyer is dangerous man He s dangerous because he does not care And such people are always dangerous Endowed with special gift or maybe a curse he s imperious to pain both physical and The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth emotional And hence his lack ofmpathy ordinary human kinship a bit of compassion and concern That something what makes us humansHe was born in a small English village as the result of not really romantic adventure on the rink and until the tenth year of life had never ver cried not ven uttered a single word In silence unable to feel anything watched the world As a young boy becomes an attraction of fairground shows a freak shown by the fraudster who unscrupulously uses him to trade miracle specifics later comes to hand of the seemingly In Deeper enlightened member of a scientific society and becomes alongside the Siamese twins another showpiece in his cabinet of curiosities to finally become a genius surgeonThe action of The ingenious pain takes place in lateighteen century mainly in England but also on the sea in Paris Berlin and on the Russian court We visit markets live in magnate s residence participate in sea battle trudge through snowstorm somewhere in Russia descend to hell s reality of Bedlam hospital to finally find harmony on uiet vicarage admiring beauty of English countrysideNovel abounds in truly realistic descriptions let s remember it is Personlighetspsykiatri eighteen century Age of Reason but also age of ignorance It reads like m lange of adventure novel with naturalistic one magical realism freely interlace with mundaneness and ugliness Dyer is an ambiguous character Ambitious and ruthless Different Uniue We rather sympathize with him than admire him Because of his terrifying gift since he knew neither fear nor hesitation he could become a great surgeon But as he states much later after his revival people didn t seek consolation in him He only like a magician repaired their crushed bodies not giving a damn about their later fate seeing in them only blend of damaged bones and infected fleshInitially his insensitivity and arrogance arouses in us pity and disgust But when he loses former power when his body finally recalls all the injuries and fractures when he s shaking from pain and cold when he becomes like the rest of us then do not be afraid to say that when he finally becomes the human we look fondly on his fragile broken physiue Tough in fact to the verynd he remains an Audiology enigma and we the readers have to answer the uestion What does the world need most a good ordinary man or one who is outstanding albeit with a heart of ice. Assion than pain Untiln route to St Petersburg to inoculate the Empress Catherine against smallpox he meets his nemesis and saviour.
Andrew Miller was born in Bristol in 1960 He has lived in Spain Japan Ireland and France and currently lives in Somerset His first novel INGENIOUS PAIN was published by Sceptre in 1997 and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour prize in Italy His second novel CASANOVA was published in 1998 followed by OX