Book Review: Mr Corwell Of Night Street
ENTERTAINMENT 10/06/2039 12:00 AM ET
Book Review: Mr Corwell Of Night Street

Asa Klein
Literature Reporter
Writer image: CC BY-SA 4.0 - image changes released under same license headshot by Matt Bidulph | Images was cropped. Image used for illustration purposes only.
Last year, writer Dan Juliett promised us something markedly different from his previous offering, Winter Sonnett.

His new work, Mr Corwell Of Night Street must, at least by that standard, be considered a resounding success.

Where Winter Sonnett delved into the cri de coeur of a mercenary returning from Nigeria's vicious civil war, tearing open his wounds, Corwell stands as its complete opposite, yet retaining a vagueness of similarity.

Each book is about the holes defining the lives of a man and the ways he chooses to fill in the hole.

Sonnett's success was in its inevitable lack of redemption for Jack, who ends up murdered by the very people who he tried to help in defiance of his history.

Corwell fixes on Blythe, a man unsure of himself. Though a man of good intentions, he lives in an ignoble world. There is an imbalance which he senses a compulsion to fix by bearing down on his definition of innocence.

What follows is some of the hardest reading I've ever encountered. Here is a man of genuine niceness, quintessentially torn apart by a social environment which finds no use for his amicability. He makes a conscious decision to become monstrous in order to live what he has to see as authenticity.

It's certainly existential and in many ways topical but really, not for the faint of heart. There are graphic descriptions of violence and sexuality which need to be understood in a philosophical context in order to avoid repulsion. I reviewed Ham-Maker by Julian Clarke, and I can with honesty say that Corwell is beyond Clarke's masterpiece in severity.

But where Ham-Maker finds meaning in connection, Corwell focuses on Blythe's self-exoneration through solitude. He finds connection through himself, in the savagery he visits on others. A family is made to suffer one at a time, because it is validation and disproves Blythe's constant nagging doubts as to his own empowerment.

Corwell moves at an excruciating pace, and this is deliberate. Juliett wants us to experience every cut, every chainsaw blade, every depravity as though it were a new morning.

He's created a modern marvel. Prepare yourself before reading.
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