Original Bliss

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9780224044431: Original Bliss

From one of Scotland's most widely praised writers, named by Granta as one of the Twenty Best Young British Novelists: a beautiful and terrifying story of passion and pornography

Helen Brindle thinks she has lost God--but it is simply love that she's missing. She certainly can't find it at home, with the violent, deadly Mr. Brindle: trapped in an abusive marriage, tormented by existential and personal doubt, she suffers from insomnia, emotional paralysis, and pathological inhibition. Until she meets Edward E. Gluck.

Edward Gluck is a public personality, a renowned genius and group mental healer, guru to people like Helen through his famous self-help process; privately, he is painfully obsessed with masturbation and self-punishment, unable to employ his own fatuous self-help techniques to overcome his personal disgust and psychological anemia.

Original Bliss tells the story of an excruciatingly awkward courtship between two soul- sick people--the one brutally shy, the other an exhibitionist--searching for a way to break out of their isolation. By turns acerbic and tender, and with remarkable economy and precision, A. L. Kennedy writes about the attempt to close emotional distances and fill physical voids, and the aching need for completion and healing. A brilliant American debut from one of Scotland's finest young writers.

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Review:

Only a writer of rare talent could take an abused housewife and a pornography addict and weave around them a terrifically tender love story. A.L. Kennedy starts her extraordinary novel in Glasgow, Scotland, where Helen Brindle leads a life of quiet despair. Mrs. Brindle has lost her "original bliss," her ability to pray and to have her prayers answered. "She found she had lost the power of reaching out. Now and again she could force up what felt like a shout, but then know it had fallen back against her face. Finally the phrases she attempted dwindled until they were only a background mumbling mashed in with the timeless times she had asked for help." Enter Edward E. Gluck, an expert in cybernetics, whom Helen hears first on the television and then on radio. Dr. Gluck seems so effortlessly self-confident, so sure of himself that on impulse she arranges a trip to Stuttgart where he is participating in a conference, hoping that he can give her the answers she's looking for.

After an uncomfortable first meeting, Helen and Edward soon discover themselves to be kindred spirits. For if she has lost the ability to reach out, he never had it; pornography is his substitute for human connections: "The books, the magazines, I could use them according to my schedule, they seemed perfectly convenient and unshameful. Naturally, at that point I didn't quite realize I'd end up having private carrier's lorries arriving to dump shifty, plain, brown packages, addressed for only me, at every house and research establishment I would ever be associated with." Kennedy works a miracle here, creating in Edward a character with creepy proclivities who is, nonetheless, utterly lovable. And when these two damaged people finally rediscover their bliss in each other, nothing could seem more right or more natural. --Alix Wilber

About the Author:

A. L. Kennedy, the author of two previous novels and two short story collections, has received six awards for her writing, including the Somerset Maugham Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and the Encore Award. She lives in Glasgow.

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A. L. Kennedy
Published by Jonathan Cape Ltd (1997)
ISBN 10: 0224044435 ISBN 13: 9780224044431
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
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Book Description Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1997. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0224044435

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