Friday, May 8, 2009

Breathing Out the Ghost by Kirk Curnutt

Let me tell you about the time your grandfather took a sledgehammer to the car.

Title: Breathing Out the Ghost
Author: Kirk Curnutt
ISBN: 9781579660703
Publisher: River City/2007
Pages: 329

Book Blurb:

Colin St. Claire is on a dangerous mission. His young son is missing, and he is on a self-appointed quest to find the boy, or at least find the man he believes is responsible. Fueled by uppers and a profound lack of sleep, Colin’s road soon becomes an uncontrollable spiral of blurry white lines, of fleeting forms in the night, ghosts of memory as intangible as vapor . . . Assisting him is Robert Heim, a former private investigator who lost his license in the line of duty—and it is a sense of warped duty that still ties him to Colin, though his own family, a loving wife and children, beckons him back home . . . The answers for both men may lie not with the man they believe is the perpetrator, but with a long-suffering farmer’s wife, Beverly “Sis” Pruitt, whose own daughter was claimed by violence, years prior.


Curnutt has taken up a very difficult issue, that of the parents of a missing child. One of the worst nightmares any parent can face. Not knowing if the child is dead or alive and the hope that he/she is. Living with that day after day is one uphill task. Everyone expects that the parents ought to move on and get on with their lives. Is it easy? Curnutt has kept his characters the way they are. No explanations, no apologies but what they are. Has there to be any reason for what we are? Curnutt shows us no reason is needed. Colin St. Clair, Heim, Dickie, the pedophile, Sis, whose daughter has been murdered, don't need props or anything.

Answers are not easy to find. But Curnut is not on that mission to provide us answers. He has written a novel about the thoughts of a father with a missing son, a mother whose daughter has been murdered, and a private invesigator who just has to go along and Dickie, the pedophile. Their connection to each other and their single minded pursuits. Does it converge anywhere. Most important, does it have to?

With complex characters and the novel moving from one character to the other, totally keeps us riveted. Curnutt's prose too helps, with its poetic way of writing. A novel, which is powerful, hard hitting, profound, disturbing, brutally frank, deeply moving and intelligent. Not an easy novel but why should any book need to be easy?

I especially liked the following:

"There aren't any laws governing grief except the law of certain obliteration." Thoughts of Colin St. Clair

" What kind of man would leave his wife to go on a wild goose chase -- and what kind of woman wouldn't go with him."
These are the thoughts of Sis, whose daughter has been murdered.

Some people move on leaving behind the past, some can't. It is as simple or as complex as that. Who are we to judge?

In India, everyday Children go missing, mostly from poor families. Believe it or not, the police does not seem to care unless the child is from an affluent class.

I rate it: 5/5.

Also reviewed by:

She is too fond of books



Becca said...

Very nicely written review!

By the way, I just found the new blog! I saw your comment on Lynda's Book Blog. I don't know how I missed it for this long but I am glad I have now found it.

Beth F said...

Wow! a 5 of 5 rating means I should look into this! Hope the word is getting out about your blog.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

So glad to see you back - I've updated my GR!

Thanks for the link to my review ... BREATHING OUT THE GHOST is powerful stuff!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

This sounds intense but good. Nice review. I'm following again :)

Jo-Jo said...

What a great review! I have this one on my shelf at home, but your review makes me think that it should be moved to the top of my list!

Ti said...

I've not heard of this one but it sounds like a very powerful read.

Right now there is a local story about a missing 3-year-old that has me on pins and needles hoping for the best. After 3 days of the kids being missing though it's not looking good. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have a missing child. So sad.

christina said...

The cover of that book is absolutely gorgeous!

Wendy said...

Nice review...and thank you for linking to mine!

Anna said...

I liked this book a lot, too. Curnutt's writing just blew me away. My review is here.

Btw, I have a little something for you here.

Diary of an Eccentric