A myriad of little surprises in this story


book review

By Derryll White

Gorman, Ed (1994). Moon of blood.

“Time is the fire in which we burn.” -Delmore Schwartz.

Ed Gorman (1941-2016) published his first novel “Rough Cut” in 1984 and quickly left his day job and rose to prominence as a genre writer and anthology editor. “Kirkus Review” called him “one of the most original mystery writers”.

Having never read Gorman before, except in short story form, he surprises with his length. elegiac passages of description – both of place and person. He’s a very accomplished writer, expert in how he builds the plot. It engages the reader, sharing well-developed snippets of local history, personal biases, delves into the federal penal system and the exploitative nature of local religion. There are a myriad of little surprises in this story.

Gorman uses gender, local color, and even weather to create shifting moods within the larger “Blood Moon” story. Yes, there are a lot of little stories, side riffs in a great blues guitar series, but they all feed into the base music.


Excerpts from the novel:

IDYLLIC AMERICA – It was the bucolic new hope, the new hope that existed in the secret hearts of all who had grown up, like me, in the small town in the Midwest, all the long, sunny, lazy fishing afternoons and the chill football on Friday nights. in the dilapidated old stadium, and Christmas carols on the loudspeaker as you jostled for gifts in the one and only department store in town, which was basically four large rooms with lots of different things crammed into them. And the Amish, of course, their horses flattening on the paved roads, the pretty women peering out from under their dark caps, the men with big gray beards and inscrutable eyes.

DOWNTOWN – The drive had taken four hours, so I needed food and coffee. I decided to try downtown to get a human feel for the place. The downtown core of any location, regardless of size, is where you can get your quickest insight into a city’s sociology.

PIONEER WOMEN – Of course, misfortune was a tradition among pioneer women here. Despite all the macho cowboy movies, the women pretty much kept things going on the frontier. Of course, the men had to plow and plow the fields and hunt meat, but study the pioneer women, and you will understand why the suicide rate was so high among them – eighteen twenty-hour days, seven days a week, for whom she has done everything from making dyes to color cloth from bark, berries and roots; making clothes on a loom; manufacture all medicines; tanning hides and cutting patterns for shoes; washing, ironing, mending; take full responsibility for a brood of children that probably numbered seven or eight children; give sex to her man on demand; to be a priest, a doctor, a teacher and, in her “spare” time, to participate and help in the planting and, later, in the harvest.

RELIGION – The church was small and modern in a repulsive way, all the sharp angles and protrusions, like a piece of glass sculpture that had been dropped and smashed, then ineptly glued back together. This message seemed to be that God was schizophrenic, and clumsy at that.

Derryll White once wrote books, but now chooses to read and write about them. When he’s not reading, he’s writing history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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