The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones

The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones

Book - 2013
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The explosive and controversial debut novel by a major new voice in fiction

Meet Tristan Hart, a brilliant young man of means. The year is 1751, and at the age of twenty he leaves home to study medicine at the great hospital of St. Thomas in London. It will be a momentous year for the intellectually ambitious Mr. Hart, who, in addition to being a student of Locke and Descartes and a promising young physician, is also, alas, psychotic. He is obsessed with the nature of pain and medically preventing it, but--equally strong and much harder to control--is his obsession with causing it. Desperate to understand his deviant desires before they are his undoing, he uses the new tools of the age--reason and science and skepticism--to plumb the depths of his own dark mind.

Profoundly imaginative, unexpectedly funny, and with a strange but moving love story at its heart, The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones is an oddly beautiful and daring novel about the relationship between the mind and body, sex, madness, pain, and the existence of God.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, c2013
ISBN: 9780143123828
Branch Call Number: F WOL
Characteristics: 549 p. ; 22 cm

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Levi_Hayes Oct 26, 2015

This book is nearly too strange for words. I liked the idea of reading about a crazy guy in the 1700s but because it's written in first person that makes it impossible to weed out what's real and what's hallucination. I understand that's the point, but at the end I felt basically like it left it up to the reader whether the hallucinations were real or not.
On top of that, all the random capitalization in the middle of the sentences kept throwing me out of the book for the first little while, and the older (though appropriate for the time) language also made it hard for me to understand a fair amount of the content.
I then found out there is a love story in it, which I suppose is nearly inevitable in all books, but I didn't notice it mentioned on the back so that kind of irritated me (romance is the one genre I actively avoid). Lots of the religion and science garble was way over my head too, meaning I likely skimmed around 10% of the book. Good idea; interesting in the beginning (Nathaniel's character intrigued me in the first chapter) but essentially a slow, plot-less feeling spiral to the ground.

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