by Jack Remick (Goodreads Author)
Mitch recognizes innocence as a seldom present but possible state of existence. Along with that recognition comes the certainty that it cannot be sustained because humans are all ultimately flawed and diseased. Because of this, Mitch’s reaction to that innocence is often to ruin it. From his fetish for white panties, to his complete ruination of a once amiable prison guard, Mitch demonstrates his ability to control that illusion that is innocence. “He still has a sparkle of humanity in him and so of course I will have to kill that.” Notice, Mitch does not say “kill him” but “kill that”. It is the humanity itself that must die.
Why? We later find the answer in this passage where Mitch mentions his now deceased, ex-mercenary friend: “It takes enormous sin to open eyes to truth and the truth is that I am, we all are cozy, warm-blooded, heat producing, luscious, ripe fields of flesh and blood and bone ready for our killer to sink his teeth, his knife, his fangs into. We are worms on a hook. Our bodies are worm-like tubes with arms and legs. Suki, with his desperate eyes and snake-like movements was an efficient machine who knew how to kill with no regret, no feeling, no hope, no desire. You can never escape. The weapons are built into you.”
This passage is one of many examples of Remick’s flawless cadence but it also states two simple but imperative truths. One, that we are helpless against death. And two, that the instinct and capacity to kill are built into us. Through his many sins, Mitch’s eyes have been opened and he sees death in every human face. He feels the need to share this truth with others, but the price to see it is an overfamiliarity with death.
Remick works colors into nearly every page, using white for innocence, gray for prison, and red for violence. Straight from the novel we can see two examples explained outright. “…I am sure that not every man who sees a pair of white panties becomes obsessed with them and so I can only posit that I was born with the white panty receptor weaknesses, flaws, and fetishes, it is strange that the white one got me this dark place with its gray walls– gray is the color of the suicide, three AM is its hour.”
Though these symbols are weaved throughout, perhaps the even more powerful effect of the color usage is the imagery that comes with it. There is a sharp contrast between the gray and lifeless prison and the passion and murder that exists in Mitch’s heart. Take the description of the Governor, representing the prison, “In the light, I do not see his hands, just the gray face, the thin gray lips, the gray eyes, the gray skin, the gray hair clipped short and flat on the top like the hair of a drill instructor”. Now take that image and set it next to a description of this murder, “I left the blade stuck in his heart, the handle protruding like the flesh-colored stem of a bright red poppy”.
By using these colors, Remick creates a world you can taste, calls on emotions without making it obvious he is doing so, and provides cues throughout the story of what it connected, which, as it turns out, is nearly everything. This story is thorough and complete. The interconnectivity makes every word important and a joy to read.
There is also Mitch’s passion for writing. Remick describes perfectly the strangling need a writer feels to create and the panic that bubbles and bursts when the right words are in danger of being lost forever. Mitch struggles repetitively with attaining the necessary writing tools. It begins with a need for paper and pens, but soon graduates to a need for a typewriter, and then a computer. There are moments of blankness, when Mitch goes days or even months without meeting his word quota. This is a complete look at the uncertainty of memories, the frustration of groping for inspiration, and the pursuit of immortality through ink.
At full speed Blood will make you squirm in discomfort and disbelief. At its most gentle, it will make you understand a killer. But it is always gorgeous writing that will transport you to a world where love and hate coexist in one of the most interesting main characters literature has to offer.