no

"The Devil's Footprints" by John Burnside

8 comments
Author John Burnside leads us, the intrigued readers, on an intimate tour of the unaccepting and brutish heart of smalltown coastal Scotland in “The Devil’s Fooprints.” But that exploration serves as just the appetizer for the first-person narrator’s – Michael’s – descent into his own low-key, “elective” madness. The devil does indeed leave his footprints all over this story, and in some way, Michael, by turns willfully and unwittingly, follows them. Rather closely.

As Michael grows up his parents are reviled as outsiders. His parents die within a few months of each other during his university years, his mother in negligent homicide, his father in weighted solitude. Michael’s own history includes his victimization by a bully for several months when a grade-schooler, an episode in which Michael finds courage and turns aggressor. However, these just set the stage for Michael's reaction to the horrific suicide by a townswoman, years later, who kills two of her sons along with herself. This precipitates a downward spiral in Michael, mainly because he thinks he may be the father of the victim’s fourteen-year-old daughter.

All this sounds dreary indeed, and I regret that, because Mr. Burnside handles all this with such straightforward earnestness, and the exactly appropriate level of somberness, that Michael’s character generates our sympathies. We’re sympathetic when a prank against an old oppressor turns freakishly fatal, but perhaps less so later when he perpetrates a felonious flight with a minor girl. You’ll not find the stunning, hurtling violence of the internal dialog that so distinguishes Anne Enright’s “The Gathering,” not here. Here we find the contemplative, self-aware, well-meaning man, aware of his ever-loosening grip, yet unable to do anything about it.

The title refers to the town legend that one morning, many years ago, after a night of snow, the early townspeople found footsteps in the snow, deep and burning, sulfuric and discoloring, clear trough the snow to the ground. They are clearly not human, and no known animal could have made them. They hop fences and go right up the side of the church, across the roof, and down the other side. Michael’s misadventure with his purported daughter ultimately results in an impossible trek on foot that nearly kills him, and the ruminations during this walk are worth the price of admission by themselves. Suffice it to say that what possesses people who act like demons becomes far more familiar to us, and is not at all what you think. Pick this piece up and  reflect with the author on the durable fear that priests and landowners feel about the demons that threaten to take them over.

I recommend this book very, very highly. Here’s why: the language will stun you with its simple effectiveness and the rightness of its diction. The characters will strike you as real, as will their symptoms. And the thematic issues of motivation, secrecy, and near-demonic possession will challenge you and bring you new understanding. You will understand more about human nature, and there is no higher compliment I can give to a piece of fiction. Congratulations to Mr. Burnside for this quiet, shaded triumph.

author profile image
Abdelghafour

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

8 comments

  1. Thank you for your sharing articles. I have been finding interesting posts and your articles are what I need. They are really useful and engaging. They are precious pieces of advice. I can branch out with new knowledge. Learn captivating things. Hope you will upload more me. Product discount master Product discount apps shopify

    ReplyDelete
  2. The real life has changed and evolved a lot, people have also got the modern and more modern perception, let's discuss it together.
    Discount master app
    Create Discount master

    ReplyDelete
  3. Life is changing and there are many modern and new things to appear, each person should learn about them to avoid backwardness and keep up with the times, follow this website to update more information. Many thanks
    https://autoketing.com/project/sale-pop-master, https://apps.shopify.com/sales-pop-master, autoketing.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you very much for sharing this useful information, hope it will help many people and share it to more people know it.
    Free shipping bar, shipping bar shopify, autoketing

    ReplyDelete
  5. I accidentally read this and it really made me think. I will have to work hard to make my website useful and more popular. Everyone please refer to offline !!! thank you very much
    autoketing
    currency converter app download
    currency converter online

    ReplyDelete
  6. Cafe-milk tea is a form of business is quite popular and strong development in many aspects. This is considered a form of sound capable of generating huge revenue with investment potential. Not too high. This is also a place to focus many sources of customers in the country, neighboring localities and also foreign visitors.However, the creation of them but comfortable space, harmony is always necessary. at.
    gai goi, Gái gọi Lê Duẩn, Cửa Nam, hình sex, Gái gọi Xã Đàn, Gái gọi Long Biên

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am very interested in this post, let's discuss it because I think there will be a lot of opinions and different views on it, let's share it so that we can receive it properly in the best way.
    facebook live chat help, facebook chat login, best autoketing

    ReplyDelete
  8. It would be nice if a lot of people discuss this article together, it has a lot of different aspects and I think everyone will have a new way of approaching it.
    email with love download, email app download for marketing, best autoketing app

    ReplyDelete