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The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart - Astrobolism!

About The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart

Previous Entry The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart Nov. 16th, 2009 @ 04:00 pm Next Entry
I just finished reading Jesse Bullington's The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart and it proved to be one of my favorite books of the year. The story follows the titular large-bearded twins (graverobbers by family tradition) on a gloriously squalid tour of medieval Europe; in an interview at the back of the book Bullington writes that his goal in part was to take the romance out of graverobbing, though I think he outdoes himself as there's hardly a shred of romance left anywhere across the face of the continent by the end of this black farce. Apart from the atmosphere, which I'd call a lovely and grimy mixture of Monty Python's "bring out your dead" scene and an illiterate peasant's woodcut illustrations to a bootlegged edition of Kramer and Sprenger's Hammer of the Witches (anachronistic, but I think "Manfried" and "Hegel" would approve), Bullington's greatest achievements here are the personalities of the brothers themselves, who are subtly different, but by and large exhibit a hilarious mixture of ignorance, cunning, perseverance, skewed piety, greed, and naiveté. They are definitely among the most vile characters I've ever encountered who aren't actually serial killers and who I actually still wanted to read about. I can't honestly recommend this book for everyone: anybody offended by foul language, honestly depicted filth, and crude yet gleeful carnage might be advised to read, er, something else. But if you're up for a rude and wild ride look no further. I'm happy in most ways that I don't still work in a bookstore, but every so often a book comes along so good I'm sad I can't put it directly into the hands of readers, and this is one of them.
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