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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield is the name of a huge department store, an emporium for mourning. Bellman joins forces with Black to create this store.
Will Bellman killed a rook with his catapult from an impossible distance when he was ten years and four days old. Everything goes well in his life. He marries the woman of his dreams and has four lovely children. He becomes an integral part of the family business, eventually running it, becoming rich, and then everyone he loves except his oldest daughter, Dora, die in quick succession. Black is present at each of these funerals. Will makes a deal with Black and they shake hands. Dora lives and the deaths stop. The store is the deal; Bellman is to build it for Black.  Black is an elusive partner.
What is a group of rooks called? A parish, a clamor, a parliament, a building, a storytelling of rooks. Rooks haunt the book, are evident everywhere, come to Dora in her sickness, are studied, are drawn, and are revered. We learn a great deal about rooks and even their cousin the raven in & chapters. Rooks tell our stories. They are about Thought and Memory and it is these two that are what fuel what flashes before us as we die, Thought and Memory. Curious how this book reminds me of my love an early volume of poetry by Ted Hughes called Crow that I read in my college years.

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