Every year in December, The New York Times publishes their best books of the year. Each year I eagerly scan through and then don’t read any of them. Not so this year! This year a book peaked me interest so much I immediately placed a hold on it at my local library. While the Times’ description of Ian McGuire’s The North Water: A Novel is sure to send most readers straight to their therapist’s office, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Not quite sure what that says about me.
Propelled by a vision that is savage, brutal and relentless, McGuire relates the tale of an opium-addicted 19th-century Irish surgeon who encounters a vicious psychopath on board an Arctic-bound whaling ship. With grim, jagged lyricism, McGuire describes violence with unsparing color and even relish while suggesting a path forward for historical fiction. Picture a meeting between Joseph Conrad and Cormac McCarthy in some run-down port as they offer each other a long, sour nod of recognition. – The 10 Best Books of 2016, The New York Times
Opium addiction! 19th-century surgery! Arctic whaling sprinkled with the promise of graphic and unrelenting violence! Sounds like a hoot, right?! Not to mention Ian McGuire is apparently the begrudged love child of two of my Top 5 favorite authors of all time.
I mean, wouldn’t you want to read a book by described as a sour nod between these two guys?
For those of you who might not be familiar with these two authors by name, allow me to reference a few works you might know.
Joseph Conrad wrote a novel in 1899 called Heart of Darkness. It’s about as cheery as you would expect. The book is actually phenomenal and is still taught in many high school classrooms. It was also adapted into the cult-classic film Apocalypse Now! staring Martin Sheen, Marlin Brando, and Robert Duvall.
Cormac McCarthy, my all-time favorite author, has written a handful of novels that have been adapted to the big screen. Most notably The Road starring Viggo Mortensen and No Country for Old Men featuring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin. The latter film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2008. As is the case with most adaptations, the books were better. However, McCarthy’s penchant for not using quotation marks does take a little getting used to so be prepared if you decide check out his novels.
As for The North Water and Ian McGuire I’m trying to temper my expectations. I’m currently #16 on the waiting list and my mind is starting to get a little worked up in anticipation. Hopefully it will be ready for me just in time for the New Year so I can make it my first book 0f 2017!
Check back here later for the review after I get my hands on it.