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Arts and Wonders

by Gregory Norminton

Picaresque and baroque, this is not for the faint-hearted! Truths and lies, monsters and masterworks chart the progress of dwarf forger Tommaso Grilli across XVII century Europe. The rollercoaster story also engages the heart: loneliness and the need to belong give humanity to its extraordinary characters.

Extract

On the plate which depicted the primary muscles, a butterfly's wing of lettered flesh sprouted from the monster's arm. Skin hung in strips, like molten wax, from his fingers; it drooped across his sinewed foot like withered leaves. What could he be looking at, this animated corpse? Emasculated, with testicles draped like tassels on his thighs, what shrub or eglantine could possibly hold his attention beyond the bounds of the plate? I have an idea, reader, that my undertaking in writing this book is mirrored in that picture. Is not this confession a kind of dissection, an unpeeling of myself? Pray do not wrinkle your nose at this flayed man, at the peeling lips of his sinful flesh. I would show you the organs that propelled me, the valved pump that beats, a living fabric beneath the skin ....

Parallels

The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq. by William M Thackeray
The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie
 

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