Martyn Bedford

Jungle Gothic

Port Mungo


Bloomsbury 234pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

THE PATHS OF destiny stretch out ahead of the protagonists at the start of Patrick McGrath’s new novel. Jack Rathbone, an aspiring painter, is marked out for a lifetime of stormy romance and the anguish and ecstasy of pursuing his art; Vera Savage, the bohemian artist who deserts her husband for Jack, is fated to bring glimpses of heaven and hell to her lover’s life; Peg, their first daughter, will die young and in mysterious circumstances. Then there’s Gin, Jack’s sister and our narrator, destined never to find a man to match her brother, and to observe his gradual creative and personal disintegration. From the outset, McGrath – a master of prolepsis (flash-forward, to you and me) – lets us glimpse much of what lies in store for his characters. The result is that an air of impending doom hangs over the story, leaving us to unravel how they will meet their desperate fates. It is the stuff of neo-Gothic melodrama, and few of his contemporaries use it as well as McGrath has done over the years. In Port Mungo, however, his manipulations are less assured than usual.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,
    • RT : First founded in Edinburgh in 1979, is considered a trusted independent source for reviews of new book… ,
    • 'In different ways Hatherley makes gritty Lódź and poor old which-country-are-we-in-this-week Lviv sound entrancing… ,
    • In this issue Lucy Popescu discusses the miscarriages of justice occurring in the investigation over Maltese journa… ,
    • 'Rodin’s fascination with ancient Greek sculpture is part of a long and distinguished French tradition.' A review o… ,
    • The New Testament, in a new translation by David Bentley Hart, reviewed by Salley Vickers ,