READ BOOK ⚖ The Mark and the Void ♫

I m not sure I can recall another novel which nudged into my imagination in quite the same way as The Mark and the Void It s a comic novel with a kernel of serious assertions, perhaps philosophic observation, at its center Hilarious situations and dialogue swirl around this center as huge storms encircle Jupiter Bits of Paul Murray s weightier views appear to have been torn from the novel s heavy core and can be encountered careening amidst the zany circulation around it.Murray s a funny writer He s created dialogue and circumstances and outlandish characters that ll make you smile and might make the bubble of a laugh rise in you It s a novel of the recent financial crisis but located in Dublin where Claude Martingale is an analyst in the taxing work of making money for clients while rival banking institutions are ground out of existence beneath the groundswell of colossal failure In the opening pages, at the outer rim of the swirling burlesque, we have Claude set up as mark by a would be writer against the moral void of big financial institutions This is like the big bang moment from which the novel expands in several directions and permutations of mark and void.Murray is a skillful writer While he makes you smile or chuckle he also makes you think He writes interesting ways of seeing the modern technical world Murray sees that technology has made us allindividual We ve used it to paper over the emptiness created between us and to analyze the encyclopedic array of facts it brings us as we try to recover systems of thought that ll bring the constantly changing shards of our lives into a reality This point of view surfaces from time to time later in the novel in various disguises They re derivatives Murray enlarges the idea through reality becoming story built from images which are derivatives of the self, our chosen method of defeating death and time.But this is just part of the dust spiraling around the dense center In another sense the void is the center and the realities are the bits torn from it which Murray grabs to use as construction materials in his narrative There s a painting called The Mark and the Void which is emblem for all this cascading darkness, just as there are empty characters, clocks striking thirteen, Cyrano de Bergerac, a hoot of a boy named Remington Steele, and flowing through the middle of the narrative and Dublin itself the River Liffey life which Claude sometimes mistakes for Lethe death.I d been impressed with the earlier Paul Murray novel Skippy Dies About another type of institution, a boarding school for boys, it also weaves together hilarity with serious ideas So I looked forward to The Mark and the Void and was rewarded Now I look forward to what he does next. The Mark and the Void is a book about duplicity Small wonder, then, that it sets up dualities every step of the way.It s a book about finances and the arts It s a tragedy and a comedy It s about taking risks and playing it safe And, in turns, it s serious and imaginative and utterly messy and ridiculous.Here, in essence, is the plot a solitary French banker named Claude is working in Dublin for the Bank of Torabundo, an investment bank that prudently navigated the market crash and because no deed goes unpunished is now headed by a conscience free new boss who chastises his employees for not taking enough chances His doppelganger is a washed up writer named Paul who approaches him with a concept he wants to write about the life of an Everyman and has chosen Claude as his subject.On the surface, these two men have little in common, but in truth, they are both driven by the same urge to escape The writer hides behind failure just as the banker hides behind wealth They have lost faith in the world, and in themselves In some ways, they personify the book s title the push pull between leaving your mark in the world and facing the void that is covered up with our doings The void comes from inside us, from deep inside us And thewe try to escape it, thewe turn the world into a mirror Of that emptiness Had Paul Murray fully embraced that theme, this book would have been a six star read But the book begins detouring in all sorts of other directions Claude is inexplicably drawn to Paul it takes him far too long to figure out what he s all about the reader can sense what he s about almost right away and when he does, he still seeks him out like a moth to a flame There are subplots galore Paul s infatuation with a of course stunningly beautiful Greek waitress named Ariadne and his Cyrano scheme to win her love There s a shadowy ex KGB guy named Igor, a strip club, the lure of an exotic island, a website called myhotswaitress, a narcissistic best selling writer, an online book review site where you can give ratings of thistles or lightning bolts and a proposed art heist of a painting called no surprise La Marque et Le Vide.It s a testimony to Paul Murray s writing that through all these twists and turns, I hung on tight, always wanting to read on, never wanting to abandon ship When he s satirizing the banking system, he s razor sharp and dare I say it entertaining At the end of the day, I m left with wondering how can a novel with so many flaws be so darn good READ BOOK ⚖ The Mark and the Void ♍ Claude Is A Frenchman Who Lives In Dublin His Birthplace Is Famed As The City Of Lovers, But So Far Love Has Always Eluded Him Instead His Life Revolves Around The Investment Bank Where He Works And Then One Day He Realizes He Is Being Followed Around, By A Pale, Scrawny Man The Man S Name Is Paul MurrayPaul Claims To Want To Write A Novel About Claude And Claude S Heart Sings Finally, A Chance To Escape The Drudgery Of His Everyday Office Life, To Be Involved In Writing, In Art But Paul Himself Seems Interested In Where The Bank Keeps Its Money Than In Claude And Soon Claude Realizes That Paul Is Not All He Appears To Be 4.5 , Murray, , Skippy Dies 2015 , ,, ,Claude,Paul, Everyman Claude , Claude , ,Igor, Lately I have watched excellent film about Paris, he says to Claude, by way of small talk In this film, three horny guys are going there and diddle many French prostitutes Title of film is, Ass Menagerie II French Connection You have seenAriadne, Claude,,, ,Murray, , . This book did not hold my interest very well I shall give a full review at a later date.Enjoy and Be Blessed. BABT What links the Bank of Torabundo, an art heist, a novel called For the Love of a Clown, a four year old boy named after TV detective Remington Steele, a lonely French banker, a tiny Pacific island, and a pest control business run by an ex KGB man You guessed itThe Mark and the Void is Paul Murray s madcap new novel of institutional folly, following the success of his wildly original Skippy Dies.While marooned at his banking job in the bewilderingly damp and insular realm known as Ireland, Claude Martingale is approached by a down on his luck author, Paul, looking for his next great subject Claude finds that his life gets steadilyexciting under Paul s fictionalizing influence he even falls in love with a beautiful waitress But can an investment banker be turned into a romantic hero, even with a writer on his side And is Paul actually on Claude s side at all The Mark and the Void is a stirring examination of the deceptions carried out in the names of art, love and commerce and is also probably the funniest novel ever written about a financial crisis. Claude is an investment banker living in Dublin but to novelist Paul he is inspirational 2 10 Novelist Paul shadows Claude at work but the banker may be a disappointment 3 10 Paul gives up on writing the Great Banking novel and Claude begins his own love story 4 10 Buped and dispirited Claude thinks Paul can help him with the waitress 5 10 Claude seeks Paul s help to woo Ariadne but things do not go as planned 6 10 Following Claude s humiliation with Ariadne, he is ready to quit but Paul has other plans 7 10 Claude is broken hearted and Paul meets with a figure from his past who offers fresh hope 8 10 Claude tries to get over Ariadne but Paul pretends they are lovers to get a dinner invitation 9 10 Paul still will not write his novel and Claude s Bank takes bigger and bigger risks 10 10 A bank collapses, a heist is averted, and Claude makes a daring decision. The good news is that the Murray s satire is funny, in places it is so funny that I was that odd commuter chortling away to himself The topic Murray picked is ripe for a tragi comedy, bankers working in Dublin post financial crises One in particular, Claude, on the run from parental disapproval, lives a life of total isolation outside of work and is therefore delighted when a writer approaches him to be the subject of his new novel.At its best the book does a great job of showing some of the bizarreness of the financial world, I particularly liked how the book showed the complete alienation of the people employed by the bank from the low tax regime they maybe located in The open ending cast of characters in both the bank, and the writer are really good Unfortunately as the book goes on the flashes of brilliance become rarer and rarer The author starts to wander intoandforeign territory for him and it shows as the book flattens out Still bits of it were really funny. You wouldn t expect to find much humour in an Irish investment bank during the demise of the Celtic Tiger, but Murray give us plenty When I started reading I thought, here we go another book about an author trying to write a book, but it quickly turns into something considerablyinteresting The plot is somewhat improbable and the protagonists have strange ideas about life, yet they somehow combine in a series of comically excruciating events.I m looking forward to the Mary Cutlass review When the ship goes down, I want to be in Murray s skiff At least there will be laughter, love, generosity, poetry, and with any luck, a gulp of whiskey among us If you thought the financial meltdown and its aftermath was too complicated to understand, read Murray His account is a little like that fabled whiskey, warming and clear At the inevitable end, we wonder where our head was, to think we could carry on like that and not have a hangover The restaurant called Life is so loud, it takes a few moments to realize it is almost empty Murray gives his reading audience almost everything we want in a modern novel a little mystery, a little romance, a little grand larceny He does not neglect important, relevant subjects like the isolation of lives wrapped in technological bubblewrap or the failure of the banking system to protect and build a middle class His bright gaze reveals the cracks in individual and institutional facades But it is all done with a lightness of touch that makes it clear we can understand this, that we must, in fact, understand this, if we are going to save ourselves If it s a choice between a difficult truth and a simple lie, people will take the lie every time Even if it kills them A successful French banker, Claude Martingale, takes a job in Dublin to escape snorts of derision from his father over his choice of career A blacksmith and former radical, his father was unreasonably proud when his son graduated college with a degree in philosophy Philosophy was France s greatest export, he would boast to neighbors How then could his son side with the thieves and quants who knew only how to cut experience into saleable lots, using the underlying only for what can be derived from it, rather than understanding the real value of life, of experience itself Technology allows unprecedented quantities of reality to be turned into story Reality becomes secondary life becomes raw material for our own narratives Claude s investment bank in Dublin creates financial instruments that fictionalize reality What better place to set a novel The problem of trying to make interesting the life of a banker was the central struggle of this work, and the central lesson we are meant to take away Claude s life in the bank was soulless, but not without moments of excruciating drama And there was money lots and lots of money for some What is the most reliable area of growth in the twenty first century Inequality, I say Bingo Even financial disasters wholly created by the banks could be capitalized upon for their benefit Murray gives us the example of a small island, Kokomoko, experiencing climate related tide incursions, transformed to a golf course by a hedge fund I m talking about monetizing failure Don t you see the bottom line here Even when it all goes tits up, you still get paid Profit is finally liberated from circumstance It s the Holy Grail It s the singularity Seizures in the electricity grid, degradation of ecosystems, the spread of epidemics, the disintegration of the financial system they re all part of the same phenomenon Civilization has become a bubble Murray warns us that members of society have a responsibility to call out the farce and refuse to playor get them to pay They need us, after all.But this insistence that we think comes to us with many examples of the fun part of thinking madcap imaginings of a literary dinner, complete with a novelist camping up his meeting with his editor who, in his quest to sign the next big thing, appears strangely blinkered to the outrageous behaviors and opinions in his stable of authors The reviewer who panned him I m a little surprised she has flesh I always pictured her as a sort of floating skull appears oblivious to the careers she has skewered A slip of an editorial assistant captures everyone s attention with her tremulous defense of art Murray invites us to look at the lives of writers the crazy cash flow between a novel s conception and publication, the procrastination, the wacky attempts to jump start the creative process, the whoring literally, in this case of life partners, the desperation and despair And then the reviews TL, DR Too Long, Didn t Read , or the cavalier online dismissal of the years of effort because Wombat Willy received the book late and got a papercut getting the book out of the box.Why bother with art at all Because it reminds us who and what we are, Murray responds The painting central to the novel could be seen as a type of graffiti whose price has risen, parallel to banks mystical valuations, to unheard of heights Threaded throughout the novel are constant references to Joyce and then suddenly, there it is, Ullysses II, the Irish folk in all their beautiful blemish And here, on the teeming road, are the Irish blanched, pocked, pitted, sleep deprived, burnished, beaming, snaggle toothed, balding, rouged, raddled, beaky, exophthalmic the Irish, with their demon priests, their cellulite, their bus queues and beer bellies, their foreign football teams, betting slips, smart phones and online deals, their dyed hair, white jeans, colossal mortgages, miraculous medals, ill fitting suits, enormous televisions, stoical laughter, wavering camaraderie, their flinty austerity and seeping corruption, their narrow minds and broad hearts, their drunken speeches, drunken fights, drunken weddings, drunken sex, their books, saints, tickets to Australia, their building site countryside, their radioactive sea, their crisps, bars, Lucozade, their tattoos, their overpriced wine and mediocre restaurants, their dreams, their children, their mistakes, their punchbag history, their bankrupt state and their inveterate indifference Every face is a compendium of singularities, unadulterated by the smoothing toxins of wealth and privilege to walk among them is to be plunged into a sea of stories, a human comedy so rich it seems on the point of writing itself This is the first book I have read of Paul Murray s since Skippy Dies, his magnificent second novel about the horrors of Irish Catholic public schools, and just about everything else, including quantum physics, climate change, history, and music I found myself relaxing into this new novel, enjoying the ride while harboring a nagging feeling that this is not Murray s finest work His talent, understanding, and deep sense of the absurd are undeniable If I wish fordiscipline, focus, and seriousness, will I have to give up the sheer joy of the unwieldy construction Writers are who they are and do what they will do and thank goodness for it I note, however, that Murray was hoping to write a short novel this time, which would imply his interest in a greater adherence to those other qualities of style Perhaps we will get it one day Murray has the goods, and lord knows I wouldn t trade one of his laughs for its reverse, not in this world Joy. This book starts promisingly An author has apparently identified the ideal character for his next novel Claude is a Frenchman alienated from himself, an outsider working in investment banking in the non place that is the International Financial Services Centre, a tax haven unceremoniously dumped in the centre of Dublin, peopled by international workers eating things like panini fromage and staring at their phones Paul, the author, tells Claude he wants to write a twenty first century Ulysses about the non people in this non place and Claude is to be his protagonist.If that was what the book was, it would be a great book But actually, Paul just wants to get close to Claude so he can figure out how to rob his bank Only Claude doesn t get it.Which might make sense if Claude was self obsessed, or socially inept But Claude is neither of those things In other situations, he shows sensitivity He is able to judge the mood of a meeting When he meets a government minister he immediately senses the suffering in the man, and the burden of his responsibilities He is aware of what his friends are thinking, and of how he disappointed his late father with his choice of career So when he s manipulated by Paul, you end up feeling like you re watching a bad Seventies sitcom where the joke has gone on far longer than is plausible In fact, Claude s voice doesn t sound like a French investment banker at all, but like an Irish writer, failing to imagine himself into the position of a French banker, which I at first thought was part of the conceit, but now I m not so sure.There are some nice observations and some funny set pieces in the book I did laugh out loud a few times at the insights into the oddness of the characters world and the absurdities of the financial markets But it is very uneven The office banter feels forced and unconvincing Claude and his chums talk about where to go for lunch and worry about what to wear on Casual Day, and who to sleep with, and how to furnish their homes It sMarian Keyes than Joyce, but when Keyes does camaraderie the dialogue is sharp and funny and sizzles with subtext Here it just feels like you really are overhearing bored office workers with nothing to say or is that part of the conceit too There is, inevitably, a certain amount about politics and investment banking but I m not sure who will enjoy reading it If you ve followed the financial crisis and its aftermath, you ll probably find Paul s na ve questions and the characters simple answers a little frustrating Conversely, if you ve lived through the past seven years and never even felt the urge to look up derivative on Wikipedia you re probably not too interested in learning about it now The novel feels like an early draft, before the author has polished the good bits and cut the dull bits More profoundly, it doesn t seem quite sure what it wants to be Is it a heightened, absurdist take on the banking world, peopled by megalomaniacs who are so fixated on making money that they don t even notice when someone is taking their office apart so they can burgle it right under their noses Or is it a thoughtful novel about nice people who somehow get mixed up in the murky world of finance and have to fight their way through the contradictions For me it doesn t quite do either I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley.