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The Insult [Hardcover]

Rupert Thomson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 33.50
Price: CDN$ 26.80 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Hardcover, Aug. 27 1996 CDN $26.80  
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Book Description

Aug. 27 1996
A gritty yet sublimely intelligent psychological thriller, this book is a return to the vivid, unsettling urban underworld Thomson explored in his first two novels. "We are in the dark side of the brain, full of grief and deliciously strange comedy. I've never read anything like it, " writes Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient.

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From Amazon

If you haven't discovered the black-magic world of British novelist Rupert Thomson, this quality paperback edition of his psychological thriller, The Insult, is a fine point of entry. There are elements of both Franz Kafka and Raymond Chandler in the story, as Martin Blom--blinded by a shot to the head in a supermarket parking lot--finds out one night that he can actually see. Is it a result of what his doctors insist is a delusion often suffered by the newly blinded? Or does it have something to do with a bizarre experiment hidden in a secret file in a part of the hospital he accidentally stumbles upon? Martin is soon living on his own in a seedy hotel, using his unique night vision to explore adventures--social, criminal, and sexual--totally new to him. If The Insult gets you hooked on Thomson, Air & Fire is also available. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Thomson (Air and Fire) can certainly write up a storm. The young English novelist has a remarkable bag of tricks at his disposal, with a tinglingly fresh eye and ear for the most fleeting of sights and sounds and a dashing way with metaphor and imagery. At first, it looks as if his tale of Martin Blom, a young man in an unnamed country who is shot in the head one night and blinded, is going to be a sort of contemporary Kafka vision. Blom is treated in a strange institution by a sinister doctor. Then he finds he can see again, but only at night; fleeing to a dour capital city, he begins to organize his lonely life around that fact. It is when Blom meets and falls for the mysterious Nina, and she disappears, that The Insult begins to go off the rails. What had been an absorbingly macabre study in solitude veers, in its second half, into a histrionic family history of Nina that seems only steps away from Cold Comfort Farm. After that, it is impossible to rekindle the intense interest Thomson had originally ignited in Martin's story, and the book, for all its incandescent writing and malign urban atmosphere, peters out glumly.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing story that goes nowhere Feb. 17 2002
Format:Paperback
Martin Blom gets shot in the head by a random bullet on his way home from the grocery store one night, which results in his blindness. While in the hospital recovering, he discovers that he can see, but only at night. Once released from the hospital, he leaves behind his old life and begins a new one -- sleeping all day, having breakfast in lonely diner-restaurants after dark, living in a sleazy hotel, associating with other nocturnal characters, dating a stripper. He also begins to believe that he is part of some larger experiment and that his doctor is behind the fact that he is able to see at night but not during the day, which slowly begins to disintigrate his grasp on day to day life.
When his stripper-girlfriend turns up dead, Blom becomes a suspect and sets out to find her killer.
The book is filled with a dark, hallucinatory atmosphere in gothic-like fashion. It lures you into this world with great promise. Problem is, it goes nowhere. Several storylines emerge, but none get developed. Characters appear and quickly drop out of sight -- there is very little consistency and zero carry-through. It's like Thomson had this cool idea but didn't have any clue what to do with it. As the reader, however, you're compelled to keep reading, hoping that this is all going to lead up to something. It doesn't. Then, after 260 pages, we enter an entirely new story. The narrator changes to someone we've never heard of before. This narrator begins telling her life story. We enter a completely different world. Talk about changing gears. The bigger problem is that this new story is better than the one the book begins with, mostly because it progresses with consistency, and pretty soon you forget the first half of the book ever existed.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Writing, Not Enough Payoff May 30 2000
By A. Ross
Format:Paperback
The insult of the title refers to what has happened to Martin, whose brain suffered an "insult" in the form of a bullet. This renders him blind--or does it? Although Martin's doctor insists he is hallucinating, Martin apparently has the ability to see at night. He moves to "the city" and starts a new life, one that takes place entirely at night (which evokes something of the eeireness of the movie Dark City and oddball aspects of the movie After Hours). I recommend reading this section only at night to preserve the atmosphere. Martin's night vision starts to change though--he suspects he is the subject of some experiment-- and he heads to the mountains to try and fix it and find some clue to an lover who has disappeared. In a small village he stays at an inn, where the narrative is turned over to a bitter middle-aged woman. For the next 100+ pages she tells her life story, which of course dovetails into his own search. Alas, what starts as an intriguing book drags on far too long, without a correspondingly satisfying payoff. Thomson's writing is quite good--he's excellent at capturing a mood and bringing characters to life, but the storytelling isn't quite there.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Martin Blom, victim of a random shooting, is rendered blind. As the story unwinds he finds he can see but only at night or in the dark. He begins to create a life around this odd existence. Moving slowly, narrating the story in 1st person, we are allowed to casually observe his meanderings and his eventual settling at a dingy hotel/brothel. Add to this neo-noir mix the beautiful mystery woman Nina, and her mildly twisted craving for Martin in his blindness. The later abrupt disappearance of Nina, coupled w/ suggested furtive movements by his ex-doctor, prompt Martin to head to remote locales in search of a family history which may explain Nina's whereabouts. The second part of the novel is the wistful recounting of Nina's grandmother's difficult life and how it eventually ties to Nina and threatens Blom himself. The style of narrative at the half-way point shifts to the grandmother, and it almost sounds like a different author. I found the story to be a similarly winding, round-about sort of mystery as Asylum by P. McGrath. The last hundred-plus pages were consumed in one sitting, as things began to rapidly unfold, I realized that Martin's story was now effectively secondary to the tragedy described by the grandmother. The tone and tragedy in this novel were subtle, and subdued. It did not produce a strong emotive response during the reading, one does not cheer for Martin, or feel for him in any way. He's a bit of an anti-hero, in the narrator vein of Poe's work. Every character here is broken in a way, which leads to a dulling moroseness in their interactions, which we watch in a detached clinical manner. Still, I found it an interesting work, to be read, if possible, on a rainy, grey day.
Was this review helpful to you?
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Martin Blom, victim of a random shooting, is rendered blind. As the story unwinds he finds he can see but only at night or in the dark. He begins to create a life around this odd existence. Moving slowly, narrating the story in 1st person, we are allowed to casually observe his meanderings and his eventual settling at a dingy hotel/brothel. Add to this neo-noir mix the beautiful mystery woman Nina, and her mildly twisted craving for Martin in his blindness. The later abrupt disappearance of Nina, coupled w/ suggested furtive movements by his ex-doctor, prompt Martin to head to remote locales in search of a family history which may explain Nina's whereabouts. The second part of the novel is the wistful recounting of Nina's grandmother's difficult life and how it eventually ties to Nina and threatens Blom himself. The style of narrative at the half-way point shifts to the grandmother, and it almost sounds like a different author. I found the story to be a similarly winding, round-about sort of mystery as Asylum by P. McGrath. The last hundred-plus pages were consumed in one sitting, as things began to rapidly unfold, I realized that Martin's story was now effectively secondary to the tragedy described by the grandmother. The tone and tragedy in this novel were subtle, and subdued. It did not produce a strong emotive response during the reading, one does not cheer for Martin, or feel for him in any way. He's a bit of an anti-hero, in the narrator vein of Poe's work. Every character here is broken in a way, which leads to a dulling moroseness in their interactions, which we watch in a detached clinical manner. Still, I found it an interesting work, to be read, if possible, on a rainy, grey day.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable in every way......
This book is magical. Thompson lures you into a strange yet captivating world and floods it with stunning images that are hard to forget. Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2003 by Alyssa Donati
5.0 out of 5 stars Lotsa stuff going on here. Dive right in!
The Insult is like a breath of fresh air. A very interesting, twisty, weird tale about Martin Blom who is blinded in a freak accident. Read more
Published on July 15 2003 by Donna Maria
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves
Rupert Thomsons book is outstanding. The plot is well thought out. You have a sense of the real paranoia that enters the characters mind when he believes he is being experimented... Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2000 by Richard Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting read...
If you've read the other reviews of this book, you already know that Martin Blom was "insulted" by a gunshot wound, leaving him blind by day but able to see... Read more
Published on Sept. 8 2000 by Amy T. Ruder
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gradual Descent into Life
A beautifully written text. Begninning with a bullet-shaped punch, Thompson introduces new elements of the tale at precisely the right moments - the main character's initial 'flaw'... Read more
Published on June 1 2000 by A. R. Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars ORIGINAL & ENGROSSING
This was a startling novel about a man who may or may not be in touch with reality. The descriptive first person narrative worked not once but twice in this story of a blind man,... Read more
Published on April 4 2000 by Kathleen P. McCahill
2.0 out of 5 stars Pointless
Well what can I say what started out as an interesting premise, was very disappointing. Character development was non existenet, the storyline gave you glimpses of interesting... Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Subdued, dark character study in a damaged family history
Martin Blom, victim of a random shooting, is rendered blind. As the story unwinds he finds he can see but only at night or in the dark. Read more
Published on Sept. 1 1999 by John IV
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolstoy Noir?
Although I will recommend this book to my friends as the best "noir" since Kerr's "Philosophical Investigation," the author that Thomson most reminds me of is -... Read more
Published on May 3 1999
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