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Word Count: 567
A bit too much of the old opiate musicThe Mariners Star by Candida Clark 244pp 16310 The narrator-heroine of Candida Clarks new novel is the wife of a fisherman who has been drowned at sea Setting out alone in his old boat grief-stricken and contemplating suicide she reflects on their passionate love and life together She remembers how when they first met she felt his face shining Phoebus-bright above me certain to dazzle me or be Medusa-ish perhaps and set my heart in stone forever after looking there and how his voice was an opiate music I could forever stay succumbed to and how their love felt like a fantastical pearly-gated playground for our hearts to be forever childed in And how when he returned to sea she always felt cast out and needful of the Edened place we were before And how great the sex was - all ripe and wanting union gloating after the honey-bees dart and slippery drip of pollination Now youre wondering why all the fancy ancient language It must surely be a period piece No Though Clark sets it firmly in Nowhereville there are clues - mentions of cars chip shops - that rule out the olden days So what exactly is she trying to do with this oddly purple prose which at times well OK often reads like a weird parody of itself I have absolutely no idea but she keeps it up As an exercise in over-the-top pseudo-biblical verbosity its flawless Though the occasional uninhibitedly sharp little phrase - in the sneak of my childhood night or the air is peppery vivid with strings of scent - hints at what Clark might be capable of those moments are few Far more of the novels relentless portentousness makes you want to giggle When the fisherman husband reaches what has to be orgasm and is tightly magnetised against my flesh and powerless in the face of a vast
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