Some Rights of Memory: Drunk Mary is my spirit animal.
I loved this book but had to rewrite my perspective entirely 4-5 times before I felt it captured my reading experience. While this review reads a little plain, this was a complex review to put to paper. Strangely, Malone’s Some Rights of Memory started me contemplating about the past; It made me feel very lucky that I grew up with some flexible low ambitions, lots of pot, boredom, and authority problems.
In the late 1990’s I was post high-school, working crappy temp service manufacturing jobs and donating plasma for cigarette money. I spent all of my remaining cash on ramen noodles and supplemented my dietary needs with lots of booze. I found great solace in the bottomless coffee at Denny’s and free saltine crackers.
Had I been a quarter as ambitious as Aiden Davies, I could have used a fragment of that sodium-laden energy and gotten some hustle on. I could be retired right now and wandered my own private beach wearing nothing but a smile and a diamond-encrusted jock strap. Well, you know, until the F.B.I. drops by and spoils the beach party.
Lucky for me, I am content to drunkenly thank the universe for a hundred safe landings after rolling down the stairs for the hundredth time.
- Some Right of Memory (Ian Thomas Malone)
- 290 pages
- Green Muffin Publishing
- ISBN-10: 0692964886
- ISBN-13: 978-0692964880
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This year has showcased a number of quite stellar novels and this was absolutely one of them. Within the pages of this novel I found a deep and emotional retrospective on people damaged by life and fringe opulence.
Throughout the book, one central figure stood out. I felt that no matter how you approach it, this is her story. She has no compass, no goals, and no clue. She was a prize to be won, and became a trophy. She is the shed husk of pupa adulthood, along for the ride then left behind when the butterfly collapses from metamorphic exhaustion.
Mary Davies is drunk. Mary has never needed a reason to drink, but if she wanted one, she has one now and knows it. She cannot smell the booze and stink coming from her pores. She ignores her two-year-old son and leaves him to be minded by the nanny/ maid/ assistance. Were she sober, this would be no different; She has a child much in the same way she has purses, to checkmark the social status box.
Mary is married but not merry. Her excuse for pill popping and booze-swilling are the other narrators of this tale: a husband (Aiden) and brother (Giles Moore), both of which are in a ton of trouble. They have been fishing the treacherous waters lake Ponzi, catching fish and releasing fewer than reported. Aiden is missing, appearing to skip town at just the right moment, leaving everyone he cared about in legal hot water and under public scrutiny. Reporters, strangers, police, and socialites are all wondering ‘Where is the money?’.
Some Rights of Memory follows a storyless story, not unlike the Scarlet Thomas novel Our Tragic Universe or the vast array of ‘classic’ literature. While the book has a beginning and an end, the core plot is less of a who-dun-it and is more about the journey and discovery than a simple answer. While the final chapter of this book does contain answers, the action of becoming familiar with the characters is the important part of reading it. (see also: The Sun Also Rises / Winter of our Discontent)
The first chapter is reminiscent of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. Being fairly long and following a ‘NotQuite’-stream of consciousness, the opening chapter makes cohesive statements of drunken clarity from the perspective of Mary. She rolls out of bed and begins a quest for booze and oblivion. Unlike Sound/Fury, there is no timeshift making you confused and sick.. just a healthy dose of witty internal drunk banter.
All of the remaining segments follow a standard narrative process, leaving the Faulkner to just the first chapter... They tell differing perspectives on the same history. All of the chapters/narrators are unique and vibrant, some serious, seeming to start off as a potential disappointment, but end up topping/matching the chapter prior. ‘How can the author of this book keep up the emotional flow after the last chapter?’. As a reader, you dive head first into the next part of the story, get used to the dramatic shift in perspective, then just enjoy it.
This review was based on a copy provided by the Author/Publisher for review purposes. Sometimes your email is overflowing with spam: erectile dysfunction solutions, african royalty, links to malware. Other times, it contains a single sentence from a distant friend or a nugget of amazing advice that should not be filtered. Regardless of where the book was sourced, in my reviews I make it clear if the the ‘mailbox’ is filled with snake oil or if it is okay for opening in front of your grandmother.