The Bukowski Agency - The Measure of Darkness

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North America: Bellevue Literary Press, Mar 2016

ABOUT LIAM DURCAN

Liam Durcan (Photo: Redstone Photography)
(Photo: Redstone Photography)

Liam Durcan published his first novel, Garcia’s Heart, with M&S in 2007. He is former neurologist-in-chief of the Montreal Neurological Hospital and current assistant professor at McGill.

The Measure of Darkness

a novel by Liam Durcan

WINNER OF THE QUEBEC WRITERS' FEDERATION'S PARAGRAPHE HUGH MACLENNAN PRIZE FOR FICTION
THE STORY OF MARTIN AND BRENDAN FALLON, TWO BROTHERS ESTRANGED FOR YEARS, WHO ARE SUDDENLY REUNITED AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT THAT HAS LEFT MARTIN WITH A BRAIN INJURY

The Measure of Darkness - US coverAn accident leaves architect Martin Fallon brain-injured with a disorder called “neglect” — he can’t appreciate half his visual world, and is unaware of his deficits.

He tries to maintain control of his personal and professional life but the disorder, with the limited insight it brings, wreaks havoc.

It is also a metaphor for the types of blindness he experiences in other aspects of his life. At the centre of the novel is a mystery: why was Martin parked on a rural road in a snowstorm when he was hit by a snow plow? By the time he gets to the bottom of the mystery, he has reached a fateful decision about his life.

Ranging from Moscow to New England, from Montreal to Detroit and rural Quebec, The Measure of Darkness is most importantly a journey into the vagaries of the human brain.

 

PRAISE FOR THE MEASURE OF DARKNESS

“As a practicing neurologist, Durcan approaches brain injury deftly, describing the physical scope of Martin's injury but never allowing the narrative to become bogged down by reductive or causative explanations that locate Martin's experience in damage to a specific physical part of the brain. Instead Durcan focuses on the phenomenological, lived experience of recovering from a brain injury, making certain Martin's perceptions are rendered just unreliable enough to compel the trajectory of the narrative.” — THE PLOUGHSHARES BLOG

“It’s a pleasure to read this sophisticated novel and to mull its scalpel-sharp perceptions about what causes us to make the life decisions we do.” — TORONTO STAR

“In this beautifully written work, readers experience Martin’s caught-breath panic and, as suspense mounts, anxious concern about what Martin was really doing on the road when he was injured.” — LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred review

“Durcan's evocative imagery talent for showing the multiple facets of human struggle, and seamless narrative structure are the marks of a true artist. Rarely does a modern novel resonate so well on so many levels.” — Life In Quebec

“The reader is left with an evocative reminder that we are each the architects of our own lives.” — WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

“Durcan raises thought-provoking questions about the sometimes conflicting roles ambition, work, and loved ones play in a complex and fulfilled life.” — BOOKLIST

“The science is woven into the story with a rare fluency.” — THE MONTREAL GAZETTE

The Measure of Darkness seems, at first, to be about the mysterious odyssey and follies of a man with a rare neurological syndrome in which the victim cannot perceive half of the world, and worse, doesn’t know he can’t perceive it. Yet, as Liam Durcan’s acutely observed, powerfully poetic prose—which can be sensitive or steely—builds to a gut-wrenching finale, we realize that this man is a metaphor for each of us and we are all haunted by the things we don’t know we don’t know.” — NORMAN DOIDGE, M.D., author of The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain’s Way of Healing

“An intriguing and layered medical mystery.” — QUILL & QUIRE

“[A] spare, ethereal novel … A deft exploration of the heart and mind that offers the pathos of a Sam Shepard play nested within the unreliable storytelling of Christopher Nolan's Memento.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS

 

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