‘… I knew at their core, both men had shared a deep hostility and distrust towards the world and nearly everyone in it. That brooding malevolency was one aspect of Marco’s personality that I hoped I had been instrumental in changing.’ – line from Suzanne Smith’s ‘The Brute and I’
Didja ever read a book that just kinda blew your mind?
Call me a Narcissist, but I am ever mindful of one very simple reality: The writer is an eternally ego-driven creature. Period. It’s why we hide in the shadows, day after day, pounding away at the keyboard in the hopes that we might somehow manage to dazzle the world with our brilliance. (Or maybe just baffle ‘em with… well, you know.)
Ergo, the books most prone to blowing my fragile little mind are the ones that are eerily similar to those I might have written. Interestingly, a dear writer friend of mine recently quizzed me about this line from one of my short stories: This is the difference between a good man and a bad one; every man wants to do violence to his spouse once in a while, for two cannot live in such close proximity without provoking the occasional violent thought.
She asked, do thoughts like that actually cross your mind? I was surprised by the question, because I assumed the obvious answer for most of us is ‘yes’. That line was written within the context of fiction, but I was being truthful about the violent impulses (although I, like most people who consider themselves decent, never act upon them).
I suppose I see anger and violence not as a label so much as a spectrum. It’s not ‘is this person angry or violent’, so much as ‘where does this person fall on the anger/violence spectrum?’ We all have nasty little beasts in our head; it’s simply a matter of how far we’re willing to go to either indulge or defeat them. Suzanne Smith, I suspect, views the human condition in much the same manner as I…
Which explains why, for one lazy afternoon, The Brute and I totally rocked my little world!
The Brute and I is intense, terribly so! Suzanne pulls the narrative from the secret places of her characters’ minds, from the darkest recesses of the human consciousness. Her characters Marco, Alex, Jake, and Emme are nothing if not amoral; Suzanne makes no judgment regarding their actions, and casts no aspersions upon their motives.; they simply are what they are, and she skillfully allows the story to tell itself without adding unnecessary commentary to the narrative.
I really liked that the story was fairly ‘clean’. While tasteful sex scenes are occasionally appropriate in fiction, I’m not a fan of gratuitous, excessive, or explicit content. The over-use of such content, in my opinion, detracts from plotting and characterization… and The Brute and I is tightly plotted, with brilliantly-drawn characters. They’re brooding, larger-than-life, and often possessed of ambiguous or even self-conflicting motives…
As are we all, at least sometimes.
If you’re looking for sappy ‘fluff’, The Brute and I isn’t for you. But if you’re not afraid of the twisted workings of the human mind, if you want a story that feels raw instead of idealistic… then The Brute and I is an absolute MUST-read!
So check it out. S’only three bucks on Kindle, but I’m betting after you read it you’ll want the paperback too!
From Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-brute-and-i-suzanne-smith/1129034890?ean=9781912768103
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