Martin Fallon wakes from a coma after an automobile accident only to find that he now suffers from a debilitating brain condition known as “spatial neglect syndrome”. Martin must accept that he can no longer continue life as the celebrated architect he was before his brain injury. He has no recollection of the accident and what led up to it. He grows increasingly agitated and paranoid as he attempts to piece his former life together.
Martin is twice divorced and has little to do with his grown daughters, Susan and Norah. There is no one to care for Martin, so his brother Brendan decides to do it. Reconnecting with Brendan, the brother Martin has been estranged from for decades, forces them both to revisit some long ago wounds. Brendan is fighting some demons of his own. A long ago tour in Vietnam and the loss of his wife have contributed to some very embarrassing and self-destructive behaviors.
The Measure of Darkness is a darkly depressing, sophisticated book. It’s a fairly short book, but it’s a complex and multi-layered one. I found it somewhat slow-moving at times. The author is careful to reveal bits and pieces of each character’s backstory as the book progresses, and he does it in no easy, breezy manner. You’ll have to work at staying with this book. While chapters written in Brendan’s POV are clear and straightforward, Martin’s meandering mind, particularly when comparing his life to that of famous Russian architect Konstantin Melnikov, was at times difficult for me to follow.
This is a multifaceted story to be sure. One that certainly doesn’t just focus on the estranged brothers and a neurological condition. The author weaves a clever tapestry of controversy and political commentary, mainly geared toward American society. The effects of war and the (deliberate) decay and neglect of inner-city communities are front and center and it’s quite clear where the author most likely stands on these issues.
This book is different from the books I usually choose, but I did enjoy it. If you’re looking for an upbeat and happy book you won’t find it here. If you’re looking for an intelligent book constructed of many layers that will make you think then I’d suggest getting a copy.
5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton
eBook Review Gal received a complimentary ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.