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Book Reviews: The Last Days Of Jack Sparks + Heiress + Matilda + In The Company Of The Courtesan

The Last Days Of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
The late Jack Sparks researched the occult for his book, now it is being published posthumously. Sparks was a journalist into fetish masculinity and scathing condemnations, his last book was to focus on his investigation into the supernatural, his tragicomic collapse, his hedonistic binges, his refusal to compromise, his state of disarray and his creepy realisation about his fate and his own delusion.

Sparks was an unreliable narrator who was frothy, unforgiving, irresponsible and had a crippling obsession that made his life turbulent and caused him to be entirely ostracised by those he was once close to. Sparks and his psychotically unstable manic crusade is utterly unlikeable. He gives his ‘talents’ hallowed status, screams pungent putdowns at everyone, has an angry determination to be right and has unshakable self-belief and pathological narcissism that has led to a life of bitter frustration and loathing.

Strange circumstances surround him but he is curiously disconnected from and spectacularly indifferent to almost everything and everyone else. He is vindictive, into all manner of sin, self indulgent and famously hard-living. His writing style is deliberately disjointed and has a melodramatic tone and it paints a distinctly less flattering picture of a man who vigorously denies sense.
This was very good with an underlying hint that there is something Jack’s done, never forgotten and never repented. There are upsetting connotations and a final twist that hints at historical destiny and the price of malevolent curiosity.

Best Lines:
“Clearly didn’t realise she only existed for my benefit.”

“He wouldn’t stop talking and doing things, so I had to stop him talking and doing things.”

“You’re just worms, Jack, trying to picture what’s above the soil.”

~
Heiress: The Story Of Christina Onassis by Nigel Dempster
This okay 1989 biography tells the life story of Christina Onassis who had money beyond count, Jackie O as her stepmother, a succession of awful husbands and no happiness.

~
Matilda by Roald Dahl
An okay kids book about a smart girl and her vile parents and teacher.

~
In The Company Of The Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
After the sack of Rome in 1527, the courtesan Fiammetta and her dwarf Bucino manage to flee to Venice to rebuild their lives. But both grasp for happiness with lavish incompetence and their brains refuse to acknowledge sense as they seek their own inevitable finical achievements.

This is a tale of disappointed greed, inescapable brutality, gentle and no so gentle manipulation, weepy catharsis and insurmountable stupidity. Any interest in the plot declined dramatically after chapter one of his gaudy ahistorical chaos. This is a story of needless enterprise, accusatory acts and physical self-sacrifice that is not glorious, just improbable, dull and full of short-comings.

Best Lines:
“How must it have been, choking down one’s future as the harpies hammered on the door?”

“Travelling under cover of darkness to avoid the plague patrols.”

“Suitably compromised morals.”
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