A highly intelligent, psychedelic, thought provoking and original read about the conscience
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BY WILL EAVES
If you are looking for an intelligent, psychedelic and original novel, Murmur by Will Eaves, a recent winner of the Wellcome Book Prize (2019), makes for the perfect “Wild Card” read.
The story of Alec Pryor is based on the mathematician and philosopher Alan Turing, made famous for cracking the enigma code, who was chemically castrated after being arrested for homosexuality and found guilty of gross indecency. The book is a combination of striking observations and dreams as Alec acknowledges the effect of his treatment and tries to identify what is happening to his body and mind. There are brilliant intelligent conversations with his doctor and beautifully moving letters to his great friend June.
The chemical injections were clearly barbaric and we witness Alec struggling to understand this intolerable treatment whilst trying to stay true to his inner being “I am afraid of becoming something else. A hybrid. The fear is not the change, it is the loss of, well, one’s personal past.’
The author digs deep into the sub-conscious mind and the thoughts and statements emerging from the genius are wonderful to behold. The observations are often funny, “marriage by and large has the most deplorably erosive effect on one’s ability to think. The work suffers, the person who needs his work becomes almost negligent of his suffering in that regard.”
Turing famously made huge advances in computer science. Living our digital world makes this story not only relevant today, but questions our own existence and purpose in life “The fear of robots, I take it, is like the fear of prophecy, the essence of which is repetition: if you can be repeated, you can be replaced.”
This is an inventive, moving and profound interpretation of consciousness told with exquisite originality which the Den is sure will give you plenty to discuss at book club or amongst your friends.
Den tip: also worth watching the film The Imitation Game about Alan Turing starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
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