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Displaying 1 - 30 of 656 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
September 29, 2019
so i am going to review this one after all, because the book i am reading now will probably take me forever, and i don't want to get out of practice writing reviews that have nothing to do with the book. it's a tricky skill, you understand, it must be honed. this may be one of my favorite books ever. i have gone through so many copies of this because i never learn not to lend it to people, particularly people i might be kissing. i think i gave this to two of them, wayyy back in my kissy youth. and of course, we went our separate ways (that's me and the book, as well as me and the kissed-upon) so i have solved that problem by keeping my lips to myself. and i will never lend this one out again, because it comes and goes in print (right now—out of print) and i couldn't bear to be parted from it again. that being said—it's by no means perfect. the biggest gripe is obvious: writing in dialect is tricky, writing in a dialect not your own is even worse. you catch the rhythm after a bit, but it's still not perfectly rendered. i also wonder what mr. nick cave would think about the word "antihero" being applied to this book, because this one is even more of an antihero than bunny munro, and if he was surprised at b.m. being judged as antiheroic, i wonder about his acceptance of what is an obvious judgment by the reader. but the's so well-written and well-conceived. his powers of description are unbearably good. i haven't read this book in at least 5 years, but i can still see every character, every building, fortress, dog, prostitute, church—everything. it has some of the most gruesome descriptions i've ever read, but also some of the most lyrical. it's love and madness and biblical misinterpretation and power and callousness and industry. if the three most important rules of door-to-door salesmanship, as we were taught in The Death of Bunny Munro are "vagina, vagina, vagina," this book teaches us the three most important rules of messiah-dom, "crazy, crazy, crazy." but, damn he's endearing. he shouldn't be at all, but euchrid eucrow is one of my favorite characters in all of literature. and that one scene, where it switches from first- to third-person is devastating precisely because you fall in love with him. and then, when that perspective is given—just a gut-punch. i may have to read it again soon, but don't even ask me for my copy because the answer is an emphatic "no." who says i can't be taught?

oh, and i almost forgot—this book also has a soundtrack—which elevates it above most other books.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Whitney FI.
57 reviews18 followers
April 12, 2023
If Gabriel Garcia Marquez got knocked up by William Faulkner and birthed a deranged novel that was kept locked up in the basement and beaten daily, it would be 'And The Ass Saw The Angel.'

I don't normally write reviews, but this book keeps tumbling around in my mind like shoes in a dryer. I read a review on here that said (and I'm paraphrasing) that immediately after finishing the book, the reviewer wanted to 're-read it armed with a battle axe.' That, I think, is most appropriate given the feelings left with after this book.

So, I had originally intended to talk about the book, discuss interpretations and whatnot, what was made meaningful and all that garbage, but I won't. I will NOT. I will make you work for it, because I had to. And I appreciate it more that way.

However, for future readers experiencing trouble, I have this advice: Let Cave's overwrought, but insidiously beautiful words, and the snarling insanity wash over you, holding onto the word "mirror" like a life raft, and you just might make it to the end of the novel and be better for it.
Profile Image for Anthony Vacca.
423 reviews284 followers
January 29, 2016
Sleazy, profane, literate, violent, bloated, verbose, apocalyptic, excessive, dense, touching, rhythmic, grotesque, reverent, And the Ass Saw the Angel tells the terrible tragicomedy that is the short and weird and wild-on-top life of Euchrid Eucrow—a backwoods outcast born with the divine gift of an angelical purpose that is compounded with an absurdly articulate mental life that goes unappreciated and, ultimately, unchecked by his hypocritical zealot neighbors on account of Euchrid being born a mute, the repercussions of which bubble and boil over in a biblically horrendous finale with some deliciously deviant implications. This novel was everything this particular Cavehead and Southern Gothic aficionado could hope for and so much much more.

The wonderful lyricist-by-day Nick Cave may be an Aussie but he gets the Southern Gothic novel whether or not you want to waste your morning worrying over the authenticity of the dialect that Cave playfully gives to the narrator. Like Elizabethan theater and Greek Mythology, the Southern Gothic yarn is the U.S.’s answer to the tradition of the grand and theatrical, those bloody moral dramas that are such a universal linchpin in this rickshaw of a human condition we all share on this dilapidated vivarium of a planet.

Is this a great book? No. There is zero restraint on display, and one doesn't have a hard time imagining Cave’s editing process involved shooting up heroin and then nodding off in the corner of his England flat. Be that as it may, this shaggy rabid dog of a novel is a treasure for admirers of the dark corners of bad people’s hearts, and for lovers of experimental-tinged prose (relax, it won't kill you, you pansies) that swoops, swells, slobbers, ruts, belches and yawps across the page. Like nearly every damn one of Cave’s songs (especially in the 80’s throughout the early 90’s) Cave wrestles themes such as GOD and LOVE and MURDER, and the results are finger-licking good.


Here's my custom-made playlist of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to accompany your reading of this book:

"Up Jumped the Devil":
"Curse of Millhaven":
"God is in the House" :
"Get Ready For Love":
"Saint Huck":
"Well of Misery":
"Into My Arms":
"Papa Won't Leave You Henry":
"Witness Song":
Profile Image for Fede.
210 reviews
September 16, 2019
One year ago I quit biting my nails - a lifelong habit I finally seemed to have rid myself of.
Last week though I started reading this book and, before turning page 10, I was munching on my fingers again. Compulsively... no - convulsively. Such was my reaction to Nick Cave's gorgeous first novel: convulsive.
Didn't André Breton write: "Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all"? Well, this novel has all the hysterical beauty of a medieval tale told by a hermit gone insane. It's an all-American story told by a devilish Australian.

My, what a mess... I don't even know where to start. Let's see.
David Lynch's disquieting atmospheres.
A bit of Tobe Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".
J .P. Witkin's aesthetics of ugliness and deformity.
The grandeur of William Turner's fiery skies.
Victor Hugo's poetics of the Outcast.
Naaah, no way... I can't compare the violent, visionary, demented mysticism of this masterpiece to anything I know. Here's a gem, ladies and gentlemen.

The title.
One of the most beautiful titles in the history of literature, summing up in six words all the iconic power of this book.
It comes from the Old Testament (Numbers, 22 . 23-31): the 'magus' Balaam's ass sees the Angel of the Lord brandishing his sword and is given the power of speech, in order to warn its master. What the arrogant human being can't see is shown to the humble animal; the symbol of all outcasts on earth is thus flooded with heavenly knowledge.
Such is the canvas on which Nick Cave (the frontman of The Bad Seeds) paints his allegory of spirituality, evil, corruption and redemption.

A Southern Gothic landscape.
A boy living in a shack surrounded by a junkyard (more precisely, Euchrid Eucrow, a mute kid doomed to undergo any sort of physical and psychological abuse), with a sadistic alcoholic as a mother and a bipolar psycho as a father. His alienation soon turns into a messianic obsession - as well as plenty of other mental issues, of course.
A village in the middle of nowhere, permeated with religious fanaticism, incest, brutality, superstition.
Sugar-cane fields, dusty tracks, rusty tool-sheds, rotting carcasses.
A swamp.
Preachers gone insane.
And a calamitous rain that, just like a biblical plague, strikes the inhabitants of the once thriving valley, bringing forth three years of fear and madness.
When a foundling - the daughter of a junky whore lynched by the mob - is rescued in the village, the Miracle occurs: the rain ends and the child is declared to be a Saint. Euchrid knows the child was actually conceived in sin and adultery. Year after year he becomes increasingly obsessed with the girl, even though in his sick mind the line between hate and desire is quite blurred... until his lifelong isolation, sufferings and mental illness eventually take their toll. A devastating burst of insanity and mysticism takes place in the hallucinatory grand finale.

This is a black comedy, an allegory and a tale of deranged spirituality, told by a masterful narrator.
Because Cave's writing is like the artefacts of those barbaric tribes from which I happen to descend: beauty blooming in monstrosity.
In fact this is one of those books in which literature is on a level with visual art. Only two examples:

"A thin purple cicatrix emerged from one bushy eyebrow and hooked around his right eye, terminating at a small, latent mole sprouting short, clipped hairs - like a fish hook baited with a little black beetle."


"The new spring moon looked naked, almost brazen in its fullness. It was the colour of mah angel's skin, but with a hint of the mistreated in her unblinking majesty, her skin faintly darkened by pale grey bruises."

It's wonderful. It's the kind of talent that makes the English language attain the highest level of itd literary potential. Such is the spellbinding quality of Cave's imagery.
What follows is one of his gorgeous descriptions of the landscape:

"The air turned tactile and red - it kinda oozed into mah lungs, soupy and reeking of evilness. There in the very blood of the air ah could sense the most hell-born forecast, hear the hexes and muttered spells - hear the beat of its breath - feel its plodding pulse, its pounding. This special evil - Coming! Drumming! - and this special air tensed to receive it.
The sky, like my scalp, tightened. It had taken the look of a vast membrane that stretched itself, like peeled skin, across the valley to form a roof, sealing in the stuffed light. It teemed with a network of intumescent red vessels, tested to capacity by their booming blood."

I could fill a whole notebook with quotes from this book, and never get enough of them (see also the excerpts I picked for my updates).
Also, one should keep in mind that the author is mainly a songwriter; hence the amazing rhythm of his prose, an incomparable - I dare say Elizabethan - musicality, with lots of assonances and even rhymes.
And the lexicon! Oh, what a fantastic journey this book is!
'Phocine' bodies, 'murine' faces, scalps ridden with 'pemphigus'; but also 'atramental' waters, the 'catoptric' surface of a swamp, 'thespian' thunder (or 'thunderama'); not to mention a 'zoophyte-looking' drunkard emerging from a mud pool, a 'pedophagic' mother... and, dulcis in fundo, the 'xylocephalic' woman (this one has become legendary: it basically means 'blockhead'.) The thing is that Cave must have kept a whole encyclopedia at hand while writing this novel. I found myself cursing like queen Jezebel while checking out, for instance, what the hell a Thysanoptera is: well, it's what any other writer in the world calls 'bug'.
And, hey, do not expect Cave's characters to say any triviality such as 'I started moving': what they do say is, "Ah make the space about me open up its wounds". They don't scream 'I'll kill you', oh no, they snarl "Ahm gunna tear your head off and shit in your neck". They don't recall 'the good old times', why should they? "Ah remember a time of eudemonia", Euchrid sighs instead.
And we sigh with him. We cry with him. We laugh with him, even though:
"Ah knew that sort of laughter all too well. Ah was acquainted with the sort of fun it could inspire. Out of all the correction that has been dealt mah way, ah cannot remember a solitary time when laughter has not been the battle-cry. "

Just wow.

This is Nick Cave, though: so, no worries, the reader is also generously provided with plenty of shit, piss, fuck, asshole, cocks & cunts - and this cacophonic contrast is the very source of his delight.

I've been postponing this book for years, and I should bash my head against a concrete wall begging for mercy for having been such an idiot. Because I've always sensed this book had ALL I look for in literature and art: the Beauty of Outrage and the Outrage of Beauty - the horrible, omnipotent Beauty that flourishes where she's supposed to wither.
"Fingers down the throat of love", as the song goes... beware though, this book goes much deeper down than a finger could go.
Profile Image for Meike.
1,593 reviews2,825 followers
October 12, 2020
Nick Cave knows his biblical tales and is also a fan of Cormac McCarthy (he even scored the movie adaptation of The Road) - and in his debut novel, it shows. The Australian Renaissance man has crafted a peculiar riff on the Southern Gothic genre, bleeding violence and pain rendered in beautiful, intense language. The book tells the story of a mute boy named Euchrid Eucrow, whose mother was an abusive alcoholic and whose father enjoy trapping and torturing animals - yes, it's that dark. The family is surrounded by religious fanatics who despise them and Euchrid, who has never leraned how to be human, suffers a disturbing mental breakdown.

I'm not easily offended by strong images and language or unsettled by violence, sex and gore, but it took me all my courage to get through this text - not because it's bad (in fact, it's excellent), but it's so bleak and dark that it's extremely hard to stomach. Or to put it another way: It's a novel about pain and inhumanity, and bloody hell, does it bring its point across.

For Cave fans, it's certainly fun to track down the cross references to songs or to distill the master's general themes: As the author is a great lyricist, it's always worthwhile to ponder the content and aesthetic quality of his works. Nick Cave, what a guy.
Profile Image for Seth T..
Author 4 books872 followers
August 30, 2007
While not the worst book I've every had the displeasure of reading*, Nick Cave's work here may be the worst that I've both read and finished. Eragon ? Gave up with extreme prejudice. Da Vinci Code ? Accidentally left it in an airport bathroom in Denver with eleven pages left and did not care enough to visit the library to see how it ended. The Lovely Bones ? Granted, I did finish it and it was bad, but it was a shiny, gold-plated sliver of heaven compared to And the Ass Saw the Angel, which I was unfortunately compelled to finish.

Ah, the joy of being in a book club.

The first thing one will notice in Cave's book is that the principal narrator is dense with a lugubrious sort of prose made up in striking part by words that won't be found in any dictionary (as they are made up). So dense, in fact, is the narration that it stifles to the point of petrification. The author himself describes the language as, "kind of a hyper-poetic thought-speak, not meant to be spoken - a mongrel language that was part-Biblical, part-Deep South dialect, part-gutter slang, at times obscenely reverent and at others reverently obscene." Cave forces the reader to invest a lot of work into deciphering a story that is far too slight to merit the effort. And I hate him for that.

Well, not really. But maybe.

In any case, with the exception of the first and last chapters, the entire tale is told in flashback by a single narrator, named Eucrid, using two different voices (one fantastical and the other only slightly more grounded in reality). Eucrid Euchrow, dying from the start, tells the tales of the divine vengeance he wreaked upon the odd religious community in his isolated Southern town and how he now dies with his glorious work complete. What is not at all clear until the last third is whether we should believe any of it. Euchrid, a mute from birth, is the product of mentally disabled man and a woman whose only nourishment is the moonshine she stills in their yard. He is, to be plain, quite insane.

If Cave would have either held personal restraint or kept an editor worth more than the cost of a community college education, And the Ass Saw the Angel would have clocked in at novella-length of slightly more than a hundred pages - and would, by that measure, have made a terse, quirky, intriguing look at madness. Instead, Cave shows no wisdom of this kind and remorselessly fills over three hundred pages with a sprawling, cacophonous garble of madness. We cannot even say that he explores Euchrid's madness for there is neither consideration nor reflection. Only revelry.

There were moments when I thought I might have a good (if offbeat) book in my hands. Moments of interpretive joy when it could be realized that things might not be as they seem. Pieces of prose that made me think that Cave really did know what he was doing, such as his description of a particular woman as a "xylocephalic ogress." But such rays of warm and happy light were always and inevitably to be short-lived, as Cave would draw the reader, nails scrabbling for some hold on light and sanity and good reading, inexorably back into his drearilous swampfief of monotonating garballations.

Not, by any means, recommended. I read somewhere that Cave himself doesn't even think the book is any good. This would have been good to know three months ago when I started reading this tripe.

*NOTE: I really have no justification to say that it isn't beside the fact that I'm being generous.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,390 reviews411 followers
April 22, 2022
After seeing raving reviews of this from an booktuber I find great I've been wanting to read this badly. Luckily when I gave a try in my local library system, it was there! Definitely an unique, intriguing and very interesting reading experience. I don't know about Nick Cave before reading this book but he is a talented writer!
130 reviews186 followers
September 23, 2008
To say that I’m giving this book 5 stars based on the fact of how much I enjoyed it, would be a lie. The book had a really weak start and a pretty damn weak plot. In my one, dumb, humble opinion the books is aiight. Yes, here comes the big but…BUT! There were 2 things I fucking loved about this book.

1. The addition of a new kick ass word to my “cool as hell words” list (the word Fornicatrix, which according to a dictionary means: a woman who engages in Fornication). I fucking love that word! When I read it on the bus, I remember thinking, “FUCK, WHY DIDN'T I KNOW THAT WORD?!” followed by a maniacal laughter... and saying, “That's hot!” So, there is one extra star... now the second reason.

2. I was sitting on the Q11 when a couple of kids
(proly like 12 or 14 years old) started laughing at the title of the book. I usually avoid kids like an earthworm avoids the shore. But! I couldn’t help myself there. At the beginning of the book there is excerpt from Numbers 22 (and the ass saw an angel) so I decided to open that page and pass it to one of the kids. I said, “Here’s where the title comes from…this Bible passage...” and they both started reading it and laughing and I felt so cool!!! When they were done he passed me the book back and said, “That was funny, thank you.” Now as a fast food worker, I don’t usually get a chance to give people cool shit to read =( but this time I got away with it. I made this 2 kids read something funny about the most read book in history.... that made me feel great!

So there you have it Mr. Cave... I think you books is like your music... just ok nothing extraordinary... and yet you get 5 starts cuz now I have one more kick ass word added to my vocabulary and I also had the chance to teach something funny and cool to a couple of kids =)
Profile Image for LA Cantrell.
424 reviews554 followers
June 13, 2018
Y'all, this is a very, very weird one to rate. I loved/hated it in equal measure and likely would guess most of you would toss it across the room. The written turns of phrase are brilliant and inventive and lovely/horrible, but the growing insanity is very tough to bear.

First, the story is Southern Gothic, and by definition that means we will have at LEAST one mentally ill person in the tale along with dark and bizarre acts. There is, of course, a protagonist who we feel for and yet know that something is not right with him. Antihero, maybe, is the term for Euchrid the blue eyed baby who is conscious of life from the first hour of his birth.

Generally, I won't sum up a book's plot, but because 95% of y'all will be smart enough to avoid the story, here goes. A boy who is born mute and with a hunched body is born to a moonshine-swilling mountain of a woman who is relentless in her abuse to her husband and child. The father comes from a seriously inbred lineage, and while he stays with his wife for years until her death, the way he deals with his daily heaping of poison is to trap animals. He doesn't intentionally kill these animals but removes them from the traps and places them in a menagerie. In this menagerie, the living animals hold battles royale in order to live - he watches them like an emperor enjoying gladiators slaughtering others. It is the father's bizarre stress relief.

These are the people who raise the boy and pass to him their faulty genes.

The kid, Euchrid, grows up despised and bullied by the townspeople who are part of a religious sect that relies on signs and prophecies. They're intolerant of sinners and will punish those who break their moral code.

Over the years, a beautiful child of prophecy is born in this town and found at the feet of their statue of a vengeful angel - her wings alight and hand holding a scythe. Euchrid, now older and grower more insane over the years, believes this young girl and he have a connection. She is believed to be divine, but only he knows better. They are bound for a collision.

Okay, triggers? Animal abuse. And animal abuse. Rape. Beatings. Oh, and also some animal abuse. Mounting insanity.

As someone who has had two spoiled dogs and two worthless cats sleeping in the bed with her for the past 38 years (live ones, not remains like we find in this book), I was able to distance myself from this portion. Remember the commercial that went: ITS ONLY A MOVIE ITS ONLY A MOVIE ITS ONLY A MOVIE? Yeah, that's my highly technical psychological trick to get past this kind of stuff. In a million years, I wouldn't have read this except our small reading group here in GR has had each of us nominate stuff that nobody but we weirdo-serious readers would enjoy discussing. Our dear buddy Kirk Smith passed away before this, his nomination, came up on our schedule. Like darling, quirky Kirk I loved this. But ah ain't never readin it again!

Excerpts below:
"Mummy was a swine. A scum c@nted likkered up brain-sick swine. She was lazy and slothful and dirty and belligerent and altogether evil. Mom was a soak, a drunk, a piss eyed hell bag with a taste for the homebrew.”

"The air had turned tactile and tinted red – it stuffed the valley thickly and there was an electricness about it that crackled inside my head like paper. It kinda oozed – this air - oozed into my lungs, soupy and reeking of evilness. And ah could see it – ah could see it rolling across every crag and crack, every knurl and knoll, every ridge, each ditch, every hill and hole, through groves of cottonwoods, each knotted chine, the knitted boles of the killing vine, each impressed dent and darksome hollow, every glen, gully, gulch, gorge, gill, glade, gallow – even this very fen, and ah expect this bog – yes, this suck, the darkling quag. "

“Humming softly with the child asleep in his arms, Sardus Swift looked to the winking stars and saw the moon - a smirk on the face of heaven - as he made his way home.”

"Listen, ah don't wanna speak ill of the dead but have ah told you that may mother was a great whopping whale of a c@nt? Well she was precisely that - a great whopping whale of a hog's c@nt with a dry black maggot for a brain."

"Fireworks hissed and spat aloft. Heaven's darkening vault was scoured by whistling jets of spark. Catherine wheels spun, gushing lurid sprays. Sky rockets, spewing fire, tore the night sky with their blazing egress. Wicks fizzed. Bangers exploded. Smoke and blue sparks filled the air. Children stood in mute wonderment, gazing at the circus of spectral showers above, their gawping faces reflecting, in shouts of colour, all the crackling mischief of the cope."

"A spirit lamp hung in the doorway, throwing a ragged blanket of copper light about the room and spilling the remainder out on to the porch. Every winged bug in a night's flight clamoured in the doorway in a frenzy of death - stupid gnats knocking their brains out to enter the bright eye. The floor beneath was littered with their singed corpses. The room droned with their madness"
Profile Image for notgettingenough .
1,035 reviews1,187 followers
March 24, 2020
Update 24/3/2020 I discover Nick Caves reading this and it's great. Maybe it's like Dickens, has to be performed, not read. Highly recommended.

Also: he thought while he was writing it that using a lot of words nobody knew was very funny, but in retrospect he wasn't so sure; this from an interview in the early nineties.

I think this just isn't my thing. On some sort of word/sentence level I'm admiring it, it reads a bit like music. Lots of people have called it indulgent, and that's a fair cop surely. The language, the style, the unusual words, the gothic floridness. But it has a uniformity of the bizarre that makes this dull after a while. David Katzman confessed that having read it a while back, the details are no longer with him, just an idea of the creepiness. That sums up the impact for me. But I feel like it could make a powerful movie, it is very VERY visual.

Nick Cave said recently that he should have set it in Australia, it's quintessentially Australian. Can anybody else see that? I've tried and been found wanting if that's the case.

I'm moving on, having read the first 60 pages or so - but I can't help feeling I've let the author down and that it deserved more from me. Maybe it's one to be revisited in the right mood.
34 reviews3 followers
July 21, 2007
This is one of my favorite novels. I have to recommend it with a string of caveats, however. The writing is gloriously, indulgently, and shamelessly overwrought. If you go in for clean, crisp prose, you'll probably hate this. It is also an incredibly grim book, but with a wicked and sometimes viciously dark sense of humor throughout (this is Nick Cave, after all).

The novel's protagonist is a character named Euchrid Euchrow, a physically deformed and mentally deranged mute living in the fictional backwoods town of Ukulore. He struggles to find some solace and acceptance in the small town, which is mostly within the grip of the "Ukulite" religious sect--similar to the American evangelist cults from which spring handling of snakes and laying on of hands.

The outlook is grim and harsh, but it's an exquisite sort of pain. I think I read this book cover to cover in a day, as I recall, but that was about eight years ago. I will try to find time to read it again, soon.

Anyway, there you go. The novel is insane, grim, and overwrought. If that sounds like your cup of tea, and you don't mind a slightly self-indulgent author, do read this.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
875 reviews2,273 followers
July 14, 2020
First Impressions

This stands up really well as a literary work, not just a musician indulging himself (e.g., some rock star pretending that they can act).

There is a really interesting, fun declamatory tone to it, as if he's speaking from the pulpit. Sort of Samuel L. Jackson in "Pulp Fiction".
Profile Image for Kirk Smith.
234 reviews79 followers
July 23, 2017
It has been nearly a decade since I first read this, and it was probably the first Southern Gothic that I read. It does still hold up and is in fact in good company as one of the most gruesome in the category. I place it next to The Devil all the Time by Donald Ray Pollock and also Child of God by Cormac McCarthy and that is among very good company indeed. One interesting thing I noticed is that while many readers placed it in the Southern Gothic style, the majority placed it in Horror. This is in fact true for all three books. Among the most hardcore of the style, I found it mildly humorous and would even call it "charming".
Profile Image for Thomas Stroemquist.
1,520 reviews126 followers
September 21, 2015
Nick Cave is truly one of a kind. This book blew my mind when I read it in my early 20's. To realize how it came to be, from a chaotic and obsessive situation in chaotic surroundings - a 20-something strung out Cave living in a loft in Berlin (as seen in the brilliant 20,000 days on earth) was a kind of surreal experience as well. I need to put this high on my tbr - a re-read is long overdue.
Profile Image for Patricija || book.duo.
588 reviews387 followers
December 31, 2022


„Bet niekas neatsakė – nes Dievas aiškiai čia nebegyveno.“

Kaip kartais nutinka, tarpe tų, kurie tiki ir seka akliausiai ir mano, kad tiki labiausiai, Dievo būna mažiausiai. Romanas beveik anti-religinis savo religiškumu, ne bet kokiu, o Senojo Testamento, todėl ir susisiejantis su ST Dievu – piktu, reikalaujančiu teisingumo. Prošvaisčių čia nėra – kaip galėtų būti? Žmonės kankina vienas kitą, o Dievas kankina juos. Dievas? Ar jie patys? Tiek aplink juos, tiek ir viduje, tik purvas, šiukšlės ir puvėsiai. Kraujomaišos kraujas, pilstuku praskiestas, neapykantos užnuodytas. Kaip bebūtų keista, net pažinodami tik tamsą, Cave veikėjai gal iš prigimtinio (o gal iš autorinio, retrospektyviai vertinant N.C. kūrybinius pokyčius) poreikio, ieško šviesos. Tačiau ar gali ją rasti, kai juose pačiuose nebelikę net užuominos? Jie ieško tiesos ir siekia išvalyti nuodėmes, laukia nekalto prasidėjimo, bet yra akli dieviškoms (arba Keiviškoms) užmačioms, specialiai sumanytoms, tokioms pat sumanioms, kaip pagrindinio veikėjo tėvo ruošiami spastai. Kekšės dukra, kurios prigimtis nežinoma, todėl ji laikoma šventąja, jos gebėjimas miestelio atstumtajame įžvelgti Dievą, kurį jis pats, nebylys, viduje gal jaučia, o gal įsivaizduoja. Ar Dievui šių supuvėlių tarpe tikrai yra vietos?

Tekstas klampus ir lipnus kaip derva, nenuplaunamas, nenusipurtomas. Jis varijuoja tarp literatūriško ir sapniško, pranašiško ir baudžiančio. Reikalauja nemažai Biblijos, krikščionybės suvokimo, galiausiai – pakantumo iš skaitytojo. Visgi, nepaisant nuostabaus Gabrielės Gailiūtės vertimo, romanas varginantis, sekinantis. O žinant Cave istoriją, nuspėjant, kad rašymo metai neprasilenkė su tais, kuomet jis buvo giliausiai įkritęs į heroiną, tai absoliučiai nestebina, tik įrodo, kad skausmas ir purvas gimdo dar didesnį skausmą. Skaičiau iš poreikio suprasti ankstesniąją Cave kūrybą – čia pasirodę veikėjai sugrįžta jo dainose. Vis dėlto, nėra knyga, prie kurios sugrįžčiau – puikiai suprantu, kodėl autorius nori užversti šį savo gyvenimo puslapį ir jo nebeminėti. Ir nors romanas visapusiškai prasmingas, juo žavėtis atrodo makabriška ir gal net šiek tiek bedieviška.
Profile Image for Simon.
378 reviews78 followers
May 28, 2022
This is a weird reading experience but it is weird in the exact ways you would expect a novel written by an Australian goth rock singer in the 1980's to be weird.

The writing style is both flowery and crude at the same time, but it makes sense if you remember the author is a musician first and an author second. The plot is a coming-of-age story told in first person by an abused adolescent psychic in the 1930's-era Southeastern United States, written and structured with metaphoric and symbolic meaning in mind rather than conventional narrative logic. In other words, written from the same criteria as song lyrics rather than a traditional novel. I also wonder if Cave wanted the result to read like a religious text, because it is clear that he put an impressive level of work in describing the beliefs and observances of the fictional Christian sect the protagonist grows up inside.

On a related note, I recognise many of the plot points from Cave's lyrics. "And the Ass Saw the Angel" ends up feeling to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds what Sandy Pearlman's "Imaginos" epic poetic cycle is to Blue Öyster Cult as they put another perspective on the lyrics of either music project by providing a new context for them that is not readily apparent to the listener.

I must say that I have a difficult time evaluating this novel and whether I find it good or bad. A good deal of the religious symbolism that went way over my head. It's also weird seeing a first person narrator who's established as illiterate and uneducated in-story constantly make references to advanced astrophysics and relatively obscure aspects of the Bible and Greek-Roman mythology! However, I can't deny that it is full of vivid emotionally resonant imagery that stays with the reader long time afterwards.

I'd still recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of Nick Cave's music output, though, since it adds more layers of meanings to his lyrics as well as the atmosphere his music tries to create.
Profile Image for Dane Cobain.
Author 28 books309 followers
September 29, 2018
I’ve had this book on my shelves for six months or so now, but I’d heard it can be difficult and so I’d been putting it off for some reason. Then a friend told me it was her favourite book and as I happened to have it sitting on my shelves, I picked it up. And it was awesome.

If I had to describe the genre, I’d call it a sort of post-apocalyptic surrealistic western with a little literary fiction thrown in. It reminded me of everything from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but it also had a kind of voice of its own that really helped to draw me into the story.

That’s a good thing, because the narrative is often difficult to follow and the dialect of the characters can be a challenge to decipher. For me, I just let it all wash over me and then sort of sat back and enjoyed the different snapshots of Cave’s unusual world as they came. I think with books like this, that’s the only way to read them, although I also think this is the kind of book that you could re-read and re-read and find something new every time.

As for my rating, it was a pretty solid 4/5 throughout until right at the very end, and specifically the epilogue. It was the perfect way for the book to finish and I also didn’t call it, so it hit me like a punch in the gut.
Profile Image for gaby.
116 reviews18 followers
November 7, 2011
Mah God, ah am at last free! From this book, that is.

Overwritten, overwrought, and truly poorly edited, Nick Cave's debut novel is a grimacing, death trodden and DARKSOME tale of mental madness and religious madness and hillbilly hell and rotten mash liqueur and hobos and godsent rain curses and child rape and hooker rape and child lust and hooker lust and child killing and hooker killing.

The one and only star here is the beautiful, inventive and utterly creative use of language throughout. Having loved Cave's music all my life, and especially his storytelling through lyrics, I determined to slog through this book till the bitter end in tribute to his many-faceted brilliance.

With a good editor and some intensive fiction-writing classes, I believe Cave could be a tremendously powerful writer. But this book smacks of having been vetted by yes-people or non-writers. Though I love him still, I don't know that I will rush to suffer another of his novels!
Profile Image for Serene  Djent.
108 reviews11 followers
July 25, 2018
"The plot, rife with gory atrocities, is relayed through clotted, gutsy prose which ranges from poetic to rabid, and is interspersed throughout with graphs, lists, genealogies and scraps of Scripture. Although Cave's manic effort will not lure traditionalists, it may snare the more adventurous." - Publisher's Weekly


This book was scummy, degrading, depraved, soul-draining, woeful, surreal and sinister; the prose continually drove the point of the unforgiving, despicable nature of humankind to all manners of life in times of fear. From Euchrid's father's love for torturing animals to a group of hag's grooming a young girl to birth the new Messiah, every page is next level fucked up.

I genuinely do not know how I feel about this book. Only upon reflection did I realise the true horror of what I just read. Nick Cave was so clever with the way he carried out writing this, though. As a lyricist, he applied poetic tone throughout the novel and increased Euchrid's resonance of insanity as his disastrous life unfolded. This component made reading so smooth and elegant, despite the material. Because of this, I think this book is outstanding. It capitalised on the actuality of life and once you got over the initial surrealism, well, it left me a little mundane about life in general if I am honest. You could argue the evil and cruelty within this book has been spun out of proportion but who are we too deny how depraved humankind can be in the environment of the unknown.

God, humans are fucking monsters.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Angie Dutton.
101 reviews1 follower
May 14, 2021
One of those books I read as a teenager and felt like it was "the best and most intense thing evah! Nick Cave is so cool!" and leafing through it now it really is the peak of all his creative achievements. Everything he's done before and since totally pales to this. Eucrid Eucrow is the truest ideal of Nick Cave's entire mission statement... which is basically to have jet black hair, talk like a cowboy and beat up "bitches". Only one of those things has Nick Cave managed to achieve in real life, but Eucrid Eucrow has them all.
Profile Image for John.
42 reviews8 followers
August 30, 2011
Nick Cave should stick with his music. He is a more than capable writer, but this book was uninteresting for the most part. I had qualms with a lot of it.

My biggest problem is the vocabulary of the main character, Euchrid. Euchrid is a mute and as far as I know never went to school and his parents certainly didn't teach him anything. His mother being a massive drunk and his father pays more attention to the traps he sets and the animals he maims than to Euchrid. Yet, his vocabulary exceeds that of myself or any of my friends and most of us have advanced degrees.

The novel did get a little interesting when a prostitute named Cosey Mo was introduced. However, her presence was short lived.

****Spoiler Alert for the rest of the review****

She is beaten to death by the townsfolk for being a harlot and outing the evangelical women's husbands as customers. After taking the beating, she is brought to the hospital to be saved. She is not. But it turns out that she was pregnant and the baby lives. Either I checked out while reading or Cave just decided that it wasn't worth mentioning that Cosey Mo was pregnant while being pummeled to death by her clientele.

Even crazier than that, apparently the women responsible for the death of the whore decide that the child needs a good home and should be watched after. A character only briefly mentioned previously becomes the father of the orphaned girl and absolutely loves her and names her Beth.

Beth is picked on as a child and ends up getting home schooled by some creepy guy. She is forced to attend, I suppose, Bible study classes with the old women. When she is some age, I'm guessing a teenager, the women bring in a nurse to make sure that Beth is still a virgin. She is supposed to be godly, despite being ripped out of the loins of a prostitute.

So Euchrid develops a fascination with Beth as he did with her mother. He watches her like he watches all of the townsfolk. A pastime that lead him to several whuppings.

As a last stand against the townsfolk that mistreated him, he decides to take advantage of Beth's belief that he is God, by having sex with her. Then a few weeks (maybe) later, Euchrid kills Beth as further revenge for the abuse he has received. The people hunt down Euchrid and his death is delivered. Then guess what, it turns out Beth was pregnant and the baby lives. The same four women that started the whole mess get to do the same thing all over again. Yay!

I'm getting angry again just writing this review. The book blows, but Cave's writing doesn't necessarily suck. His story telling does, but he can write.

One last thing. The novel is split up into 3 books. The first book has chapters that are fairly well spaced apart in regard to amount of pages. The second book has chapters that are 10 pages, 3, 5, 1, and just a paragraph. The third book has no chapters. This is a tremendous pet peeve of mine. I hate authors that do this.

This review is almost as bad as the book, but it is considerably shorter.
1 review1 follower
January 26, 2011
While the writing is certainly indulgent, it's important to remember that the narration is in first-person -- that is, the wordplay and elitist vocabulary bordering on nonsense and semi-stream-of-consciousness monologues are composing a cross-section of Euchrid's brain. The prose is complex, gritty and even abrasive at times, but to judge all of the technicalities of Cave's writing as faults of the author is to ignore the possibility - and the necessity - of the main character having some hand in the often ridiculous, often confusing, often disturbing diction. Cave wrote this book in first person for a reason and personally, the schizophrenic writing only served to make my impression of Euchrid and his kingdom of Doghead almost way too vivid.

That being said, if you don't like And the Ass Saw the Angel, it's not necessarily because you "don't get it". The prose either works for you or it doesn't. A lot of the words he uses are portmanteaus and many are just flat-out made-up, and it can be confusing to try to understand the meaning of a sentence through the context of Euchrid being such an unreliable and craaaazy narrator. Reading this book was a frustrating, murky and at times terrible experience -- and that's coming from someone who loved it!

It's not for everyone: the story is beyond dark, the setting is nightmarish, the characters are for the most part despicable and the protagonist (antihero?) is all the more pitiable because, despite his rampant insanity and horrendous brain-droolings, he is thoroughly empathetic on the most basic levels. This book is not a feel-good experience. What it is, however, is an astoundingly complex character study; the plot doesn't twist and turn so much as it reluctantly parts for Euchrid's determined and melancholy trudging, and the setting doesn't passively wait to be captured in description and pretty pictures so much as it seeps and slithers into his every bit of narration. It's fascinating, it's well-done, and if you find yourself being one of those weirdos who enjoys these sorts of novels (or who decides to just this one time), I think you'll find that it sticks with you long after the book is closed.
Profile Image for El.
1,355 reviews502 followers
April 6, 2012
Southern Gothic, at nearly its finest. Better than Faulkner (although that's probably unfair since I've only managed to read his short stories), but not as good as Flannery O'Connor (though she wrote more short stories than novels). Cave is somewhere between them, but darker, dirtier, and creepier.

I absolutely loved this.

I wouldn't recommend it to people. I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I went into it not knowing anything about it other than it was written by Nick Cave (be still, my heart). I've had this on my shelf forever and have put it off for so long because I was scared I would hate it and then my image of him would forever be tarnished. Or something.

There's also a soundtrack which is wonderful from what I've heard of it, and fits the book perfectly.

The whole kit and caboodle... loved it. But it's one of those secret loves, except for all of you in GR and anyone else who asks; I guess my point is I probably won't go around talking about it because I like that not a lot of people have read it or even heard about it. It's out-of-print, so finding a copy is like finding a rare gem. A really dark, dirty, creepy gem. A blood gem.
Profile Image for Nick Davies.
1,532 reviews44 followers
June 1, 2016
A beautifully rich and intelligent novel - the language playful and complex and colourful (though most of the colours are greys, browns and red.. lots of red), this was almost poetry at times. The story - as much as I understood/followed it (and I admit that I only 'got' about eighty percent of it) follows a mute young man growing up in a backwoods American town of hicks, religious nutters, freaks, alcoholics, whores and much more. There is a sub-theme concerning a young girl suspected to be a 'chosen one', there is lots of detailed description of various violent, gory, perverse happenings. It's all pretty much what one would expect of a Nick Cave novel, if you were familiar with his song-writing.

I did enjoy it - like Will Self and Douglas Coupland etc. there is a lot of entertainment to be gleaned from the unusual, oft twisted, challenging and clever writing. At times though it did get a bit difficult to follow, and with hindsight there was less plot than there should maybe have been - at times it involved working pretty hard for what was a bit self-indulgent on the part of the author. On balance though it was impressive and interesting.
Profile Image for Veronika Sebechlebská.
381 reviews129 followers
June 25, 2019
Posledné výskumy naznačujú, že známa hmota vo vesmíre tvorí len 4%. Zvyšných 96% vesmíru je údajne tvorených niečím, čo vedci nazývajú temná hmota a temná energia. Zatiaľ sa veľa nevie o tom, čo temná hmota je, odkiaľ sa berie a celkovo, čo si o nej myslieť, ale ja prisahám, že ak vezmete do ruky túto knihu, vytečie z nej Niečo, čo si temnú hmotu natiera ráno na chlebík a ešte si ju trochu opepří, aby to nebolo také sladké.
Profile Image for Laura.
828 reviews257 followers
June 13, 2018
Can a book start out as a 5 star read but by the end you absolutely despise it? In my experience, yes! I have no idea what I just read nor do I really want to ponder on it anymore. The Doghead section completely did me in. It’s completed, shall we move on?!
Profile Image for David Sarkies.
1,813 reviews319 followers
August 13, 2017
Nick Cave's contribution to the written word
20 April 2012

I have been meaning to read this book ever since I discovered Nick Cave as a musician. I also recently discovered that he is also Australian (born in Warracknabeal in Victoria) which means that there are actually some decent musicians coming out of Australia, as well as authors. Okay, I probably shouldn't knock Australian artists, but to be honest with you I have never really been a big fan of Australian music, literature, or movies. I guess it is not because they are bad, but more because there has really been nothing that has interested or inspired me. Look, Australia does not actually produce the cookie-cutter rubbish that seems to come out of the United States, and it does have its own distinctive character, but I guess because Australia is such a lucky country, there has not really been a huge impetus for literature.

I would say that this is Nick Cave's attempt at writing literature. His music does tend to be quite dark and moving, and this book is no different: in fact a number of people have suggested that his music has gone into this book, but that is not really all that surprising since Nick Cave is an artist (as opposed to simply being a musician, all you need to be a musician is the ability to play music, however to be an artist requires great skill) and artists will put a lot of their own feeling and passion into their works of art. Now, I am not going out to say that this novel is a work of art, I am still not sure as to where I would categorise this book, but I can say that it is more than a simple airport novel, but I am not willing to go as far as to say that it is literature.

Anyway, I think I should talk about the novel, and I must admit that it is different, very different. The protagonist is a deformed mute who lives in a backward American town that was founded and is ruled by a religious sect known as the Ukulites. It is actually very difficult to follow this book as we are generally seeing the events of the outside world from the eyes of Eucrid and as the story continues, it seems that his mind becomes more and more crowded. Eucrid does not live a happy life, he is a deformed individual in a village of deformities, an outcast among outcasts. While at the beginning of the novel he lives with his mother and father (who are not pleasant individuals) by the end he has locked himself away in his own fortress.

There are a lot of religious overtones throughout the novel, but once again that is not surprising coming from Nick Cave since there are a lot of religious overtones in his music. I would not necessarily say that he is antagonistic towards religion, he is not, however it is very clear that the antagonism lies towards established religion. This actually seems to be a very common theme in Western Literature, in that people are not antagonistic towards God, but towards those who claim to be his ambassadors. In a way, it can be said that with friends like them, God does not need enemies, but the truth is that God has quite a few enemies, and unfortunately those that call him their friend, do not act like friends.

I guess there is an idea of personal faith verses communal faith in this novel. Eucrid has personal faith, and unfortunately it does not seem to fall into line with the valley's communal faith. However, the idea of communal faith that comes out from the novel tends to end up becoming corrupted by those who practice it, and it is usually the leader of the community that directs the movement of the communal faith. The problem is that when one has personal faith, one would want to meet with and spend time with those of similar ideas, however the problem is that when the community takes a position, it can be very easy to become obstinate with that position, and then begin to alienate people who old contrary positions.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are objective concepts in Christianity, however we can end up creating a lot more objectivism than is really demonstrated by the Bible. One objective fact that Christianity claims is that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Another is that he was crucified, died, and buried, and on the third day rose bodily from the dead. However, let us move to personal opinions, such as smoking. I find it strange that while churches are not strictly no-smoking zones, nobody will actually smoke on the church grounds, and those that do tend to be alienated. Another can be political. It is quite sad to have heard Christians indicate that unless you vote one particular way, you are not a Christian and are disobeying God. The Bible doesn't say anything about politics or smoking, yet we seem to add those things into it.

The problem that I have with Church and Politics is that there is no consistency, and we tend to focus entirely on one aspect and ignore the other. One political party bans abortion, however neglects the poor believing that the poor are poor through their own fault. However, another party attempts to provide assistance to the poor, but is morally bankrupt. Then there is the economic aspects of the parties, and in particular a lot of greed floating around the congregation. In fact one of the things that I have noticed with Christianity is that while everybody is equal before God, not everybody is equal in the church. If one is on minimum wage and one goes to a church of doctors and lawyers, then one begins to feel alienated because one is not as wealthy as the rest of the congregation.

This is not the easiest book to read, and some have suggested that one needs to actually read the book more than once to attempt to actually understand what is going on. Unfortunately this is not really a book that I am going to pick up anytime soon to read. However, I am glad that I have eventually got around to reading it.
Profile Image for Johanna.
442 reviews15 followers
January 13, 2018
"And the Ass Saw the Angel" is a lurid, violent, and very, very mad book - much like the protagonist Euchrid Eucrow. Despite having a name that rolls off the tongue, Euchrid is a mute. However, his muteness does not stop him from conducting a very disturbing and visceral retelling of his service to God during his short life. In a township where most of the residents are fanatical believers, Euchrid alone sees the truth of their sin and the need to enforce God's wrath. He is accompanied by his Angel, a righteous indignation against all, and his trusty sickle. This tale is not for the faint of heart.

Euchrid's narration of the story is what I liked most about this book. His tone is literally dripping in madness as he describes all that he surveys in his self-made kingdom of dirt, trash, and rot. His obsession with the deceased prostitute Cosy Mo, and later the child Beth, is fanatical as he sees both as central to his service to God. He writes of vengeance, destruction, hatred, and obsession. Despite his clear madness and disturbing visions, I found myself on Euchrid's side as he carried out his Divine instructions. I did find that the plot was a bit weak, and it could be easily argued that Cave could have edited much of the miscellaneous content in favour of a more linear tale. However, I felt that the inclusion of Euchrid's childhood, his strange memories and visions, and his early discoveries gave an odd credence to his madness and later actions.

"And the Ass Saw the Angel" is a harrowing journey into the life of a mad mute living in a religious backwater Valley. There is little tenderness or redemption in this tale, but there is an odd satisfaction at Euchrid's role as God's Chosen helper. While the plot is not linear, it is oddly circular which leaves the reader with a pretty screwed up ending in a township that should have destroyed itself a long time ago. A well-deserved five stars and I would read it again.
Profile Image for Laura Brower.
94 reviews16 followers
September 25, 2021
I think it really helps if you're a Nick Cave fan, because I couldn't help but read this all in his voice. It's almost like he's sat in the room with you. If you hate Nick Cave then I'm sure this would be quite trying. Interesting that this was originally intended to be a film, can't imagine what that would be like. It's cool that it's the least mature Cave can be as well, lots of senseless violence, animal cruelty, rape, etc. This was written during peak Cave when he was living in Berlin and was still on the drugs (I think).
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