Saturday, March 13, 2021

Review of Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon

We can cut right to the chase. If the idea of a psychological character study of disturbing and empathetic proportions, all written in dynamic, tangential style, and with an undercurrent as to the story’s broader relativity does not seem interesting, look elsewhere. Otherwise, for readers who enjoy the unravelling of a mind in steak-knife prose, Theodore Sturgeon’s Some of Your Blood (1961) may be for you.

Sturgeon never letting the narrative come anywhere close to routine, Some of Your Blood would be the equivalent of a well-edited movie. Part flashback, part autobiography, part document samples, part therapist’s notes, and part other forms of writing, the novel offers multiple perspectives into the life of George Smith. Born into a poor, abusive family, his consolations in early life are the joy he finds in nature, becoming a master hunter and trapper of small game. Taking an unfortunate direction in life after his mother’s death, he ultimately enters the army.  While there he gets some discipline, but upon release Smith discovers there is still an itch needing scratching.

Psychotherapy being psychotherapy, there are moments in the novel that haven’t aged well. On the whole, however, Sturgeon clings tighter to the perennial elements which remain relevant. There is a bit of (indirect) Freud, but it’s just as easy to say Freud remains a household name today precisely for the number of psychological nails he hit on the head. For readers afraid Sturgeon allows the novel to become a textbook affair, fear absolutely not. What’s described, along with the aforementioned variety of styles and techniques, makes for a realistic story—and primarily story. George Smith could actually exist, and likely has many, many times in some form or another.

Drawing the reader deepest into story is Sturgeon’s prose. It’s immaculate. At once rural, colloquial in flavor, it’s similar to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in that it likewise is incisive to the bone—meaning striking in metaphor and exposition.

The last comment I would have is, Sturgeon is predominantly known for his work in science fiction and fantasy. Wholly mimetic, Some of Your Blood shows Sturgeon doesn’t need sensawunda to be a strong writer. He adroitly creates a realistic picture of a wounded psyche, giving it a little bit of room to reach out and contact some of the fundamental aspects of every person’s life. Gadgets and magic not needed, interest is wholly maintained through vivid, sharp prose, dynamic editing, and a delicately imbued desire to know what lies just behind the mask of George’s persona. What’s there is disturbing, but horror this is definitely not (only the edge of it <wink>).

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