Friday, February 10, 2012

The Missionary Jadwin Ross

Now that quite a few of you have finished the book, let me say first off - thank you! A lot of folks tell me they enjoyed it greatly and felt that it gave them a sense of place. Some have said beautiful things about the writing that leave me beaming with pride and happiness... my gosh!

There are a handful of folks who have expressed wonder over the ending - they question the interpretation (theirs and mine) and whether the huge twist - HUGE - was good or bad. (75/25 favorable I'd say from folks who have shared). Some folks don't like to be tricked and I deliberately and unapologetically lead them toward that end. Majorly manipulative on my literary part, I know.

Aside from trickery, I think what is disturbing for some folks is that we sometimes seek a sanitized view of the world. And I don't give in to that. Far from it. No happy endings here. Closure - yes. Resolution - of course. Blissfully riding off into the sunset - nope, sorry my friends...

Because what I want to talk about next is spoilerish - I won't give too much away, I promise - I will put the next comments below the fold as it were. On the next page.

You've been warned. If you don't want the ending spoiled - even a little - then don't click forward. If you have finished - or don't care if the surprise is marred a tad - proceed.

Last chance to turn back...


I said so...

Okay. What bothers some folks - though most others accept - is that Jadwin Ross is not ultimately a good person. There I said it. There are aspects of his character that are truly vile and horrific. That internal horror ultimately culminates in a scene of sheer over the top madness but the evil was subtly evident far before.

Like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho - who is Jadwin's literary godfather of sorts -  the evil is not in the violence that ultimately occurs but in something else. In Bateman's case - it is adherence to the Masters of the Universe world of Yuppie materialism. The descriptions of his wardrobe to me were as horrific as were the violent misogynistic brutalities so described. In Jadwin's case, it is his apathy toward the women he encounters and their fate that is troubling and purposefully so. He is a self-directed man in every way. His intentions may be good and his work may even be good on a pure surface level. But he is totally not disturbed by the death of a young woman he was with sexually. He is more disturbed by his lack of memory and maybe even by his own lack of remorse over her murder. It is THIS, to me, which is the true horror that unfolds.

In hindsight, because of the carefully manipulated structure of the book, the reader may associate more benevolent feelings toward Jadwin than he deserves. Sometimes folks will be reading along and write me that they really like Jadwin Ross and that he is memorable to them. They impose their own context of wanting folks to be good people - pushed for in the narrative by me, no doubt - and some even ask me how much of Jadwin is me?


I believe all characters in "The Missionary and the Brute" are aspects of me in some ways. I think all novelists probably feel the same. We are all multi-layered people with dimensions of good and bad within us. We have all assimilated all that we have seen, experienced, read and heard into our fabric. Not that this means that we are all a bunch of serial killers. But serial killers, terrorists, accidents and horrors of every ilk have permeated our lives in ways that are undeniable. Tragedy and horror, comedy and light are all parts of who we are as whole beings. 'Simul iustus et peccator' are we. But of course, Jadwin is NOT me. I know the kind of terrain upon which he walks, I have encountered missionaries on my journeys that are reflected in some aspects of his being, but he is an observation, not an externalized part of an internalized self.

I care. Sometimes too much, perhaps. But that is who I am. That is a huge moral distinction there.

For people who tell me early on that they like Jadwin, I softly warn them - don't like him too much... lol... probably the best way to put it. I want them to be a bit objective there. And truly if they look at simply what he says and does, they will see that there is not a whole lot there to actually like. Other than humor and sexual stamina. Which are surface niceties to be sure, but not admirable in and of themselves as character traits. The confusion comes of course from the internal dialogues - the italicized parts of the book - which are very carefully constructed.

Probably all I will say on that one.

Imagine if you will that you are a person without a moral compass - and even the moral compass that has been given to you, thrust upon you as it were - that still small voice within - is wholly ignored. It is acknowledged, but not accepted. Yet it is the acknowledgement that it is being ignored that is most disturbing within us.

Yet, always, there is hope. Even within characters who do not seek such there is a redemptive path that may yet save them. It is sometimes contained not within themselves. But sometimes in a person or a symbol. And that is hope. That is what we - not being the Missionary Jadwin Ross - cling to.

[And that is what the sequel may or may not explore... tease... Someone asked me if the plane crashed at the end. That mere question - as valid as it is - was never considered by me at the time of writing "The Missionary and the Brute" but that interpretation is certainly a clever slant on things... thanks Tom! So hang tight - ]

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