The Bellwether Revivals

McLelland & Stewart, $29.95
Benjamin Wood, MFA’09

Having left high school and distanced himself from his working class family, Oscar Lowe is drawn into the lives of wealthy Cambridge students Iris and Eden Bellwether. Eden claims it was the organ music he was playing at the church where they met that first attracted Oscar’s attention.

Oscar works at a nursing home, much to the fascination of his new friends. Iris becomes his girlfriend, and Eden attempts to indoctrinate the sceptical Oscar into his belief that music can heal not only mental, but also physical ills. He attempts to prove this by hypnotizing Oscar – when Oscar awakes his finger is bleeding, but the injury mysteriously heals itself by the next morning. When Iris breaks her leg in a car accident, Eden puts his theory to the test again.

The mystery of Eden’s abilities is the driving question of the novel. Does Eden have delusions of godhood, or can he truly heal with the power of music? The Bellwether Revivals is an unsettling and thought-provoking novel with a lot to say about many things – genius, insanity, class, education, the human psyche. The writing is deeply metaphorical, painting a romantic picture of Cambridge where students argue philosophy deep into the night.

The Bellwether Revivals is Benjamin Wood’s first novel and in 2010 was shortlisted for the inaugural Sony Reader Award category for best unpublished novel by an author under 30, part of the Dylan Thomas Prize. He is a former fiction editor for PRISM international.

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