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4 thoughts on “The Eel

  1. Eddie Watkins Eddie Watkins says:

    Remarkably scholarly fiction that gathers bits of Blaise Cendrars' life and compositional style and applies them to what seems like the author's own life appropriately mythologized a la Cendrars Woven into this mix is a kind of international investigative thriller involving the recovery of Cendrars' ashes of his body and his amputated arm so to honor Cendrars' wish to be returned to the Sargasso Sea the womb of all life The ultimate aim of this adventure is the achievement of a fugue state which I took to mean a kind of disassociation of the self from self and society so to become a person of destiny a kind of transcendent automaton governed by spontaneous impulses which seems to open up a real flesh and blood humanism in the end Most of contemporary society and especially the publishing industry are brutally skewered along the way MacKinnon's Cendrars is much colder and pitiless than my Cendrars but that only illustrates how Cendrars contains multitudes Definitely recommended to any and all Cendrars junkies


  2. Ian MacNeill Ian MacNeill says:

    “Of all that is written I love only what a person has written with his own blood”Friedrich NietzscheNietzche would have appreciated The Eel; every page is covered in blood Not the blood of violence but the kind where a writer opens a vein to work The Eel by David Mackinnon tells of Jack Fingon a spiritual bankrupt and terminal peripatetic who finds solace and a kind of spiritual grounding in the writings of Blaise Cendrars 1887 1961 a rather obscure Swiss French novelist and poet popular with the brooding and angst ridden Fingon sees in Cendrars a kindred spirit and determines as homage to his literary doppelganger to perform an unfulfilled duty to the man which is to have his ashes spread in the Sargasso Sea a region of the North Atlantic bounded not by land but by ocean currents; a suitable enough metaphor on its own for the rootless characters that swirl around in the eddying currents that make up The Eel It is also the birthplace of the European eel which hatch there before making a long and dangerous journey to the estuaries and fjords of Europe hence the title of the book Fingon is not for the most part a very endearing character but you can’t fault his determination He is by parts contemptuous and arrogant and as aggravatingly self abnegating as one of those monks who flay their own skin in an effort to expiate their sins both Original and voluntary For many Fingon will appear perverse He like his hero Cendrars abandons first his birth family and later his marital and paternal responsibilities to pursue his own vision of himself as a poet rebel which isn’t to say the book is not worth reading uite the opposite It is because McKinnon an expatriate Canadian and recovering lawyer living in Amsterdam stays true to character and pulls it off Along with Fingon we’re treated to a curious cast of characters including one of Cendrar’s daughters who may or may not have possession of the great man’s ashes Fingon’s father referred to as “the judge” a dour and distant veteran of the Second World War who casts a disapproving eye on his son’s rejection of contemporary cultural values and responsibilities and various other drop outs and drinking companions Oddities abound including times when the narrator breaks from the monologue to personally address what we eventually determine was an abandoned son It’s like watching one of those movies where one of the actors suddenly turns to the camera and winks One of the book’s virtues is its erudition; MacKinnon is clearly well read and a thinker and the book is studded with aphorisms and sly references ranging from the amusing to the frightening “If a man’s thoughts aren’t his own by middle age he has failed” says Fingon Or this from the judge “The crime lives within us all and awaits only the circumstances to be acted out” Like the Sargasso Sea itself the book seems at times formless and boundless but in the end that becomes its greatest strength after all we all feel that way sometimes and some like Jack Fingon feel that way all the time Mackinnon has been compared to writers like Henry Miller who he lauds in this book and is clearly another of his literary heroes but in this Mackinnon’s fourth book he appears to have found his own voice – it’s worth listening to


  3. John Unsworth John Unsworth says:

    For the erudite reader the author revisits his brilliant Cendrars’ uatrain in The EelThe protagonist Jack Fingon leaves a staid and boring upbringing and dissatisfying profession to knock about Europe where he discovers life and literary pleasures Reading Blaise Cendrars “saves him” by charting an incitement to literary action and Fingon decides to honour Cendrars’ curious wish for disposal of his ashes The adventures and misadventures associated with his obsessive efforts to fulfill Cendrars’ wish is revealed in disturbing droll and raucous actions that Cendrars himself would commendIf your shelves are graced by Miller Bowles Bukowski Donleavy Burroughs Rimbaud Durrell Thompson Celine – and the French surrealists you will devour this book I am reminded of Miller’s Rosy Crucifixion and Durrell’s Black BookMacKinnon is to be commended for this rare in the present domain and scholarly addition to modern literature Buy this book read it and place it on the shelf with other significant literature This reader thinks it belongs there


  4. Walter MacDonald Walter MacDonald says:

    David MacKinnon's novel The Eel is narrated by its protagonist Jack Fingon Fingon is a Canadian novelist resident in France The story he tells is simple enough When he was a young man he was inspired by the vagabond life and vivid writings of post WWI French author Blaise Cendrars Fingon owes a debt of gratitude to Cendrars so when his publisher offers to introduce him to Cendrars's daughter he jumps at the chance to meet her and repay the debt His method of payment is to fulfil Cendrars's written testamentary wish to return to the beginning of all life in the Sargasso Sea Fingon interprets Cendrars's desire literally and plans to have a small measure of the cremated author's ashes injected into a living eel a creature guaranteed by nature to return to its birthplace the Sargasso Sea thus fulfilling Cendrars's wish It's a simple if uixotic plan Unfortunately for Fingon Cendrars's daughter who possesses or claims to possess her father's ashes is ambivalent and non committal about the idea Her coyness frustrates him but he is nothing if not determined to repay his debt to Cendrars with or without his daughter's cooperation But the pleasure of reading Fingon's story is less in his recounting of events than it is in following the erudite subterranean labyrinthine poignant grief stricken remorse plagued and fascinatingly obsessive contours of his mind Fingon ranges far and freely over a myriad of subtly inter connected subjects and experiences There is scholarly biographical detail about Cendrars's battle experiences in WWI in which his arm was severed permanently Beautifully rendered nostalgic scenes between Fingon and his lawyer father a Catholic and a WWII RCAF pilot whom he refers to as the judge Scientific digressions on eels and captivating detours on the artists and writers of 1920s Paris Mysterious and compelling passages addressed to an unnamed you All of which is rendered in highly charged psychologically complex hypnotic language What emerges is a portrait from the inside out of a hypersensitive profoundly emotional deeply wounded man Jack Fingon a man severed like Cendrars's arm from the things he prizes above all else and holds most dear


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The Eel ❰Read❯ ➪ The Eel Author David J. MacKinnon – Thomashillier.co.uk Writer Jack Fingon realizes too late that his life of intuition and attraction has produced little to value and nothing to remember To settle a piece of unfinished business Fingon devises a plan to fu Writer Jack Fingon realizes too late that his life of intuition and attraction has produced little to value and nothing to remember To settle a piece of unfinished business Fingon devises a plan to fulfil the testamentary wish of French vagabond poet Blaise Cendrars to be buried in the Sargasso Sea where life first burst from the depths of the ocean floor towards the sun.