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McGrath, Patrick Port Mungo

ISBN 13: 9780747570196

Port Mungo

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9780747570196: Port Mungo
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From their childhood, Jack Rathbone has enjoyed the adoration of his sister Gin. When both attend art school in London, it is a painful wrench for Gin to watch Jack fall under the spell of Vera Savage, an older, flamboyant artist. Jack and Vera run off to New York within weeks and, from a bruised and bereft distance, sister Gin follows the couple's progress to Port Mungo, a river town in the swamps of the Gulf of Honduras. There, Jack devotes himself to his art, while Vera succumbs to infidelity and a chronic restlessness, which even the birth of two daughters cannot subdue. In his spellbinding narrative, Patrick McGrath tracks these individuals across decades and continents: the latter-day Gauguin figure Jack, his buccaneering mate Vera and their two girls, Peg and Anna, cast adrift in their parents' chaos - as observed by Gin, their far from detached chronicler. It is ultimately a world of dark tropical impulses and Manhattan art market forces, where a mysterious death is swathed in tight complicit secrecy, and the imperatives of narcissism and art hold human beings in outlandish thrall.

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Review:

"Patrick McGrath can write a love story like no other man alive--dark, a little twisted, very passionate, and so loaded with exact and unexpected sensuous detail that, although you may never wish to actually live in this sleazy little city of Port Mungo, you could happily spend a whole vacation within its pages." Peter Carey 'Brilliant' John Banville 'His prose, sinuous, savoury and sly, is a delight.' Graham Swift 'Fiction of a depth and power we hardly hope to encounter anymore.' Tobias Wolff

From the Author:

Where the story came from.

The story of Jack Rathbone and Vera Savage grew out of a longtime interest in the romantic figure of the brilliant but dissolute artist. I began with a painter, a man of excessive appetites who leaves a trail of destruction behind him wherever he goes. I soon realized he was little more than a walking cliche, however, so I turned him into a woman. Things at once became more interesting. Soon the question arose, what kind of a mother would such a woman make? This turned into the thematic core of the book. It took the form of a kind of intense dialogue between creativity, narcissism and responsibility.

I was interested at the same time in putting my characters in a tropical setting. I wanted to see the two painters against a Caribbean backdrop, both for the vividness and exoticism of it all, and also to allow them to self-destruct far from the constraints of the homeland and the city. For this purpose I invented Port Mungo, a seedy river town "wilting and steaming in the mangrove swamps of the Gulf of Honduras." Part of the novel concerns the eventful journey from London to Port Mungo. Part of it concerns what happens there. And part concerns the repercussions of those events, as they work themselves out much later in New York.

I took for my narrator a woman called Gin Rathbone, sister of Jack. This gave me the chance to create a further strand in the book, in that I was able to explore, even as the story rolled forward, the complicated geography of a close brother-sister relationship. In its way that relationship turned out every bit as steamy and mysterious as Port Mungo itself.

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McGrath, Patrick
Published by Bloomsbury Pub Ltd (2004)
ISBN 10: 0747570191 ISBN 13: 9780747570196
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