Oisín Curran - W. Bluebottle’s 24-hour romp through shifting times, places, and points of view in pursuit of his lost dog and ghost sister

Oisín Curran, Blood Fable, BookThug, 2017.
Read an Excerpt: Open Book

Maine, 1980. A utopian community is on the verge of collapse. The charismatic leader’s authority teeters as
his followers come to realize they’ve been exploited for too long. To make matters worse, the eleven-year-old son of one adherent learns that his mother has cancer.

Taking refuge in his imagination, the boy begins to speak of another time and place. His parents believe he is remembering his own life before birth. This memory, a story within the story of Blood Fable, is an epic tale about the search for a lost city refracted through the lens of the adventures the boy loves to read. But strangely, as the world around them falls apart, he and his parents find that his story seems to foretell the events unfolding in their present lives.

“A family drama, a fantastical voyage, and a poetic reflection on love, death and betrayal, this extraordinary coming-of-age novel exposes the difficult relationship between free-thought and blind faith, evasion and enlightenment. Oisín Curran’s Blood Fable is an adventure for the heart and soul.” —Johanna Skibsrud

“This careful and loving rendering of a child’s mind proves that acts of storytelling were once not so much vehicles for escape but instead crucial rehearsals for being. A remembrance of lost time—or maybe, to reference its Buddhist undergirding, an alaya-vijnana, a storehouse consciousness—Curran’s vision of boyhood is perfect in details and sublimely moving. Blood Fable is a magnificent double take, which—like a bistable optical illusion (duck or rabbit?) —allows two universes to coexist. A rapturous adventure tale where the very essence of adventure is subverted so that fantasy and reality conflate; this is done not for temporary trickery but to deepen our comprehension of the real.” —Eugene Lim

“The dark magic in Blood Fable is just a story (within a story), but that somehow makes it more, and more truly, magical. It is a story about how stories are made, how they help and refuse to reflect our lives, as resonating versions of the world refracted through the prism of imagination. On almost every page something threw me gloriously off balance and I couldn’t stop asking myself: how does Oisin Currin manage to write so consistently, compellingly, hauntingly well? I will reread this book.” —Jacob Wren

Blood Fable is, for me, a perfect book; it is the novel I always wish I were reading. In its twin stories—one of an eleven-year-old boy and his flawed, beloved parents and the other a wild tale of love, peril, and adventure across underground tunnels and seas—are all the wonder and terror of childhood, refracted by a luminous imagination. Through the wide eyes of a child, Curran plumbs the world of adults with compassion and acuity. Blood Fable is a quest, a question, a story of searching—for understanding, insight, heroes—and of failing, finding in their stead the imaginative mercy of love. This is a joy of a novel, glittering, wondrous, and strange. I remain in its thrall.” —Rebecca Silver Slayter

Oisín Curran, Mopus, Counterpath Press, 2006.

"An astounding debut novel, written with courage, innovation, wisdom, style. Oisîn Curran leads us onto a topology of narrative surfaces that appear and disappear seamlessly: subway terrorists in an urban density, a bucolic meadow and stream, postapocalyptic devastation, a ninth century abbey, forty-fifth century conspiracies. The narrative here allows one to enter the creative guts of storytelling, to experience it as a living force. Curran is like Beckett, Woolf, Joyce, Barnes, Bernhard, Celine, Faulkner, in whose work powerful prose excavates the ground of narrative itself, and exposes the sources and necessity of storytelling."

“Ostensibly, Mopus is William Bluebottle’s 24-hour romp through shifting times, places, and points of view in pursuit of his lost dog and ghost sister. Curran’s masterful work of concise metafiction is cinematic and dreamlike, but it is also understated and lyrical. Like Kelly Link’s stories, the telling is matter-of-fact, but there is something eerie about the world it is set in. Some other works that come to mind are: Mark Danielewski’s 'Only Revolutions,' David Mitchell’s 'Cloud Atlas,' Flann O’Brien’s 'At Swim-Two-Birds,' and Jeanette Winterson’s 'Art and Lies.'”

"one of the best, genuinely experimental novels i’ve read in a long time… a daring and ambitious book, successful in its narrative high-wire act, oddly grounded in the current moment of apocalypse-always while circumventing completely the self-aggrandizing disaster movie poses. a consistent and non-sugary feeling of nostalgia, of remembrance of time just and long lost, sustained throughout.
structurally, this book’s the shit. or, to say it differently, it’s got beautiful answers to the novel’s problems of character and plot. why have we spent time playing with mobius strips and contemplating klein bottles? because their strange topologies are not only uncanny in their impossible possibility–but because they are metaphors for (or doorways to) the collapsed multi-possibilities of each particular existence. curran has composed an equivalent in prose, where doubles and ghosts and doppelgangers and recursive loops and variations on themes are all used to profound effect.
it’s a bit unsettling to not know where you are, which happens a fair amount, especially in the beginning, but the book slowly unfolds itself… and then refolds upon itself over and over… great books are worth reading again, but this one almost requires the second time through.
a close relative to two similarly slim, similarly cult-classic-y, dense episodic novels: david ohle’s MOTORMAN and jaimy gordon’s SHAMP OF THE CITY SOLO… but while i love those two books, MOPUS’ style, for better or worse, is less aggressive and confrontational than MOTORMAN’s and less pyrotechnic look-at-me than SHAMP. MOPUS is more straight-up lyrical, with rich and graceful passages describing place and nature. one downside: while in the midst of the book’s whirlwind, the characters’ emotional lives are rendered fairly straightforwardly, more surface-level observations and depictions than the deeper interiors one might expect…
but pretty damn great book. oh, and: after donald harington’s WITH and way better than auster’s silly TIMBUKTU–it’s got the best description of dog-mind i’ve ever." - Eugene Lim

One of the most overlooked books of the past ten years, about a guy named Bluebottle searching for his white dog through 24 hours of a shifting nightmare terrain full of ghost-people and deformed air. It’s not so much terrifying as it is haunted, and continuously shaking your expectation of how a story can be told. This one does things with senses you don’t expect a text to, which caused people to keep comparing it to Joyce and Beckett, but really it’s just the kind of machine you need to pick up and eat. The first sentence is: “Start in the dark with the clatter of leaves and two birds talking, invisible flowers bloom.” - Blake Butler
Read an excerpt here