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Disaster Was My God: The Scandalous Outlaw Life of Arthur Rimbaud

by Bruce Duffy

Often poetic, even in dark moments, this fictionalised retelling of the poet, Rimbaud, is both witty and disturbing. Moving fluidly between moments in Rimbaud’s life, it focusses primarily on his relationship with his mother. I occasionally struggled with the story as I really didn’t like Rimbaud, or his mother for that matter, but still it engaged me and it was worth reading to the end as it’s certainly a characterful, colourful book!

Extract

And off he went, face flat to the table, and no tapping, peter pulling, or shilly-shallying - pensez-vous! The boy was a mad machine. Shoulder bones bunched, cowlick erect, fidgeting and cracking his knuckles, the boy wrote these poetic parlor tricks almost metronomically, yet with such verve that word of his prowess reached even the dusty rococo-encrusted, bust-presiding offices of the highest educational authorities of Paris. Who duly dispatched two bearded, black-suited, black-top-hatted worthies to palpate the lad’s lobes. Learned men, Gobineau’s disciples, the two men were steeped in the new but promising science of phrenology, a way to determine character as revealed in the facial-cranial-racial structures.

Parallels

The World as I Found It by Bruce Duffy
Regeneration by Pat Barker
 

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