Book Review : Les Edgerton - The Rapist (2013)

Pre-Order THE RAPIST here

A fish is an excellent substitute for, say, a wife. The piscatorial species accept instruction with good humor and practice stoicism, two fine qualities never discovered in any but the rarest of the female species.  

 I am a firm believer that there is more to this life than what we know. Our egos want us to believe we have solved the mystery of existence and that the way we're living is as sophisticated as it will ever get, but history keeps proving us wrong. Les Edgerton's THE RAPIST beckoned me to read it from the first glance. Something about the boldness of its title, the ghastly beauty of its cover and the renown of its author created a power of attraction I couldn't resist. This novel and me were meant to have a relationship. You have to understand, genuine shock value is very hard to find in literature. They happen maybe once over a decade and its ideas are usually repeated and deformed until rendered meaningless. Well, we came to that fork in the road again. We have that book that will raise the pitchforks and I knew that before even reading it. I just didn't know how deep it went into the heart of darkness. Despite all my good intentions, I was unprepared.

THE RAPIST is one of those titles that pulls no punches. If you're sensitive to graphic rape scenes, you've been already warned. Truman Ferris Pinter raped a woman, yes. He doesn't deny it. He does claim he didn't kill her though, that her death was purely accidental. He has one day left to live, for his death sentence will be carried out the next day. Facing oblivion, he sits down and writes his account of the events that lead him to this fate. The narrative starts as a factual account, but delves into a more philosophical realm as Pinter starts reflecting on an array of subjects from his upbringing to his life in prison, mixing memories with rants, while still preparing to face his executioner.

Les Edgerton understands the mechanics of shock value. You're supposed to face what you fear, assimilate it and understand the bigger picture. There is obviously the grisly account of Pinter's crime in THE RAPIST. But as gripping as it is, it's important is secondary to what the book is about. If rape, even in literature, sickens you to the point of passing final judgment, might as well close the book twenty pages in. There is nothing positive about the crime, but there is nothing positive also about the victim and the life Pinter was living. His life in prison is a much more important part of the novel than the rape itself. It echoes the experience of several great figures of our history and even our deepest beliefs *. "Normal" people won't give an honest thought to a psychopath (which Truman obviously is) as they wouldn't give an honest thought to the ultimate truth if it was presented to them.

"I was framed," I said, playing.

"Shoot!" he laughed. "I read your file."

"Okay," I countered, "what do you think, then?" 

"I think," he started, and then paused, furrowing his brow into wavy lines, "that you're some kind of genius that doesn't belong anywhere. I'd say you're like movies I've seen sometimes where the main guy has been miscast. Like a comedy that isn't funny because the hero isn't. I mean, the line are funny, you can see that, but you don't laugh because the actor doesn't say them right. It's like he's in a different movie than the others."

THE RAPIST is one of the few novels where the chapterless (or almost chapterless) form works in its favor. The long monologues of Truman Ferris Pinter, mixed with memories and delusions are addictive and difficult to pry yourself from. I thought the second part was a little dissonant. Not that it wasn't pertinent, but the out-of-body, mystical experience was hard to adapt to after reading such a stark, yet philosophical half. It's a necessary passage, maybe it could have been expressed in some other way, but there is definitely a connection to the supernatural to be have, here. It's part of who Pinter thinks he is and it's part of what you think you understand as a reader and it gets blown away by the time you finish the novel.  For better or worse, THE RAPIST will redefine your moral boundaries.

Launch date is March 20th. Expect THE RAPIST to receive high praises and scorching reviews. Nobody will look at it indifferently. The way I see it, none of these reviews will be a bad thing, per se. THE RAPIST is a novel that confronts you to yourself and your beliefs. It's the way controversial books are and its the way they travel too. They gain a great deal of momentum through anger and outrage. It's not a book that discusses the inner psychological workings of rape and much less passes judgement on it. THE RAPIST is first and foremost about society and how its inner workings makes us self-righteous and oblivious to certain things. Prepare yourself for outrage, controversy, pitchforks and passionate debates. Some books are bound to be unforgettable. 

Forget what you know. This is like nothing you've experienced before.


* If I go any further, I'm going into spoilers. Sorry for being a tad abstract.


I'm a pop culture blogger and author living in Montreal, Canada with my better half Josie and my dog Scarlett. I am a proud member of author collective Zelmer Pulp and have about a dozen of short stories published to my resume.

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to thank you for your wonderful review, Benoit! This really made my day. Just delighted that it impacted you--that's what it's all about...