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The Electric Michelangelo

by Sarah Hall

When I first began reading this novel, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. What on earth would I find interesting about a novel that has very little dialogue and whose main character is a young man who wishes to become a tattooist? What a surprise. In honesty, not an easy book to read but the author evokes such beautiful imagery using words in the way only a gifted writer can. We follow the life of Cyril Parks, known to all as Cy and meet the important people in his life - from Morecambe to to Coney Island, New York. We journey with him through life, learning the tricks of an art, at times, both brutal and beautiful.



Extract

Cy brought the customer inside, took the money, and prepared his body exactly as he'd seen Riley do a hundred times. He coloured in his first black-bordered image, bottom corner up to top so as not to smear the transfer, working in a small pool of ink, steadily, interpreting lines beneath it. And how the needle sang when it was put on someone else's body! Like a tuning fork struck against a piece of wood. An entirely different melody than that made from working on his own leg. And his mind rushed out to all the aspects of chromatic nature, and came back within the image he was making. Whatever that image had been he didn't remember, but he did a decent job and the customer was happy. And by the time the man had put his shirt back on Riley was awake and downstairs and watching.
- About time you started pulling your weight around here, lad. Wondered when you'd get your finger out of your arse. Next time use your own chair, that one is mine.



Parallels

Tattoos and Motorcycles by Karen Lee Street
The Customized Body by Ted Polhemus
The Elephant Man - the film
 

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