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Blood-Drenched Beard: A Novel

Blood-Drenched Beard: A Novel - Daniel Galera I received this from the publisher through First to Read.

This book is an amazing experience, but I'm not sure I fully processed all of it, and I'm not sure I'm satisfied with where it landed, philosophically. It's the story of an unnamed protagonist whose father kills himself at the beginning of the book. He takes his father's dog and goes to the village where he's just learned his grandfather was killed years before. His grandfather has become a taboo legend, and his efforts to find out what happened there forty years before are blocked at every turn. In the mean time, he settles in to life, finds a job at a gym, enjoys life on the beach, falls in and out of love. The mystery plot involving his grandfather evolves incredibly slowly, as does the story of his lost love, and why he won't speak to his brother. There's a lot of time hanging around, meeting interesting people, living life, discussing life and its complications. You have to be patient to enjoy the story but it's well-written enough to enjoy it at its slow pace.

The last 100 pages or so are somewhat difficult to swallow, both in their literal interpretation (the plot takes a strange turn) and their metaphorical meaning (it's unclear to me exactly what Galera was trying to accomplish with it). The novel ends with the narrator's impassioned philosophical argument. He's figured it all out. Forgiveness is impossible, and we should never forgive. He also discusses fate, choice, and precognition. It's all thought-provoking, but at this point he isn't making much sense to me, and that's the bang the novel ends with. Eh. I'm just not there with him.

But that doesn't change the fact that this is a beautiful novel, which vivid symbolism, solid characters, and enjoyable discussions of important topics. I really enjoyed it.