by Patrick McGrath

Reviewer Rating:


If you like dark smart things, you'll like Port Mungo. Port Mungo is a well-told torrid noir-ish tale of two lovers, tortured artists both, whose unhealthy yet passionate and consistent relationship spans decades and continents, leaving in its wake a tangle of pathos, alcoholism and twisted sexuality.  They flee first the stuffiness of London and then the excess of New York City to settle in a backwater town on the Gulf of Honduras to make their art.   The hot humid climate of the small town infects them like malaria and they fester together, sinking into alcoholism and constant fighting against a backdrop of fevered creative productivity.  They bear two daughters in this environment, and the actual story of this book is the reconstruction of the past leading up to the tragic death of one of the girls.   

Port Mungo is wonderfully narrated by the spinsterly sister of one of the artists, a woman who has no first-hand information on any of the events she tells, and whose all-forgiving love of her brother informs her blind bias.  This clueless narrator gives ample food for thought on the nature of truth and the past (not to mention the blindness of love).   For the right kind of reader, Port Mungo will strike the perfect pitch of decrepitude, intelligence and literary quality.  I highly recommend it.  

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