Brendan Connell's Clark was published by Snuggly Books in November 2016.

Information about Brendan Connell:

Brendan Connell was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1970. His works of fiction include Unpleasant Tales (Eibonvale Press, 2010), The Architect (PS Publishing, 2012), Lives of Notorious Cooks (Chômu Press, 2012), Miss Homicide Plays the Flute (Eibonvale Press, 2013), Jottings from a Far Away Place (Snuggly Books, 2015), and Cannibals of West Papua (Zagava, 2015).

Click here to visit his official website.

Information about Clark:

One of the best actors of his generation, Eric Clark was born José Fernando del Torres in Asunción, Paraguay. On a night in November, 1955, in New York City, a legendary spirit entered into him, complicating his destiny - a destiny which would make him a star in the booming Italian film industry of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s - in sword and sandal epics, spaghetti westerns and gialli.

A REVIEW OF BRENDAN CONNELL'S CLARK

Brendan Connell is an author who has never been afraid of writing something out of the ordinary and experimenting with his literary output. His latest novel, Clark, is a delicious slice of literary fiction that goes beyond the scope of a normal literary novel, because it has all of the elements that make his stories impressive and unique.

I'm personally very fond of Brendan Connell's fiction, because his novels and stories intrigue me and stimulate my imagination due to their originality, humour and twisted nature. One of the reasons why I love his fiction is that many of his stories simply cannot be classified as merely one kind of genre fiction, because they contain traces of several genres. I especially love his way of blending literary fiction with speculative fiction elements, absurdism and surrealism. When you begin to read his stories, you'll never know what to expect from them, because he manages to surprise you with fresh and exciting ideas.

Clark is my kind of a literary novel, because it's excellent literary fiction with a touch of experimental storytelling and literary strangeness. It's a beautifully written novel that invites readers to explore the world of Eric Clark and his somewhat different kind of life. I can honestly say that Clark is one of the most captivating novels I've read during the recent years, because it's an amusing, witty, strange and partly disturbing tale of a man from Paraguay whose life changes when a legendary spirit enters into him and he becomes a sought-after actor in Italian films.

Eric Clark is an intriguing protagonist, because he's one of the best actors of his generation. He has an interesting past, because he was born José Fernando del Torres in Paraguay. His father was a dealer in transistor radios, his mother was an expert at cooking puchero and river fish, and his grandfather was eaten by caimans. He used to listen to radio dramas when he was young, and he became enrolled in a little theatre group that the priest of his church formed. As a teenager he experienced the Paraguayan Civil War. At the age of nineteen he left his homelad and travelled to New York. One day in the middle of November, 1955 his life changed completely. He was told by a man that he is going to be given talent, but he has to take care of it, and then the man pressed the talent into him.

I won't go into details about the story, because Clark is one of those novels that must be experienced personally. When you let the story unfold and become immersed in it, you'll find yourself hooked by it. It's such an amazing and well-told story that you won't be able to stop reading it.

Brendan Connell explores José's acting career in an elegant and a bit twisted manner. I enjoyed reading about how José's career started and how got the name Eric Clark. It was fascinating to follow his career from humble beginnings to fame, because he seemed to be able to drift easily from one role to another. I was especially intrigued by his interest in seeking insight into his roles by wanting to be the characters he played.

The author has a fascinating way of exploring the protagonist's private life and what is happening to him, because his career affects his life. His life is complicated, because the spirit that entered into him has molded him and certain things have become easy to him while he struggles with other things. For example, he is not entirely happy in his relationships.

One of the best things about Clark is that Brendan Connell explores Italian film culture, movie business and acting in his own unique way. He expertly fleshes out many things and makes sharp observations about acting, fame and films. I think that many art-oriented readers will find this novel interesting, because the author mentions and refers to many names and films.

The chapter about the film Cannibali del Borneo is an especially intriguing chapter, because it features descriptions of what happens in a cannibal film and how the main character gets into trouble when his plane crash-lands in Borneo. There were certain elements in this chapter that slightly reminded me of the author's novel Cannibals of West Papua. The chapter in which the protagonist begins to film Wanda is also memorable (and slightly disturbing), because it showcases the author's sense of style.

Brendan Connell masterfully combines humour, satire, history and cinema with literary strangeness. He has quite a lot to say about various things. He doesn't hold back when writing about what goes on behind the scenes when films are being produced and made, but never overdoes anything, because there's a fine balance between style and substance. There are many fascinating scenes in which the story floats almost dreamily between drama and satire.

I like the author's use of footnotes, because they add depth to the story and they clarify certain things by providing readers information about various persons etc. If you're one of those readers who likes to skip footnotes, please don't skip them in this novel, because they're essential to the story. I think it's good to mention that the appendix contains a complete list of filmography mentioned in the novel.

I greatly enjoy the author's slightly twisted view at reality and life, because it adds fascination to the novel. By writing about things in a slightly skewed way and spicing the story with a disturbing undertone, he awakens the reader's interest in the story.

By the way, if you're a newcomer to Brendan Connell's fiction, I think that Clark serves as a fine example of what kind of an author he is, because it has all of his trademarks. If you're already familiar with the author's stories, you won't be disappointed by this novel.

Clark is one of Brendan Connell's best and most ambitious novels to date. It has an interesting, intelligent and well-told story that has thought-provoking and satirical elements. It's a rewarding literary masterpiece that should not be missed by quality-oriented readers who want to read something different and memorable.

Highly recommended!

Log in to comment
Discuss this article in the forums (0 replies).