Vengeful Beast: Cicily Janus on David Nash’s Van Gogh’s Ear


Van Gogh’s Ear, David Nash, Star Cloud Press

If you talk to any writer, regardless of genre, you would know that it’s nearly impossible to get your work published in today’s literary climate unless you’re already “established.” Despite this fact, new voices emerge all the time. Some tank within the first month or two of their book’s release. Others flourish and pave the way for future works to be acquired. These are the writers who bypass tradition and go to great lengths to follow the voice in their works. They ooze with originality, landing them in the right hands at the right time. Star Cloud Press, an independent press based in Arizona, found their diamond in the rough when they signed David Nash. I must say that Van Gogh’s Ear, his debut novel, has proved to be one of the darkest, most intense and wonderful romps in literature I’ve come across in the last five years. As a budding literary agent, I do not hand this praise down lightly. The enormous amount of advanced praise for Nash is well-deserved.
Van Gogh’s Ear, is audacious. Impassioned. More than worth the read. Nash allows the controversial subject of rape to be intimately explored. VGE isn’t your typical witch-hunt. It’s more of a portrayal of the after effects that tear down the victim and their loved ones. Rightfully so, Nash does not displace or minimize the crime at any one point. Instead, he places it right in your face with its consequences glaring and clouding the reader’s view of reality. Morals and ethics are pushed beyond the norm and into the extreme. Fine lines of sane, rational thoughts cross over to the unspeakably insane.

From the beginning, the reader is tossed into the fatalistic mindset of a man (Ross) who is scorned upon learning that his true love has been defiled and damaged by the act of rape. Ross then sets out on a journey with no clear map or means of escape. A vengeful beast is unleashed within him that will eventually destroy everything in its path. This anger comes with consequence and risk. Unfortunately this involves the only family he has. Brentwood (Ross’ brother) then begins spiraling down the same drain with Ross. His sanity and unconditional love for his brother is then tested over and again until the hard weight of the climax, three brutal murders, reigns down upon them. Nash’ style is quite unforgettable. Thick and often sultry, his turn of phrase and beautiful prose thrives throughout. The voice is unwavering, a constant reminder of the pain his characters are living in…

Her voice was meek and breathy. She had more fear of the moment than any of us. But tremulously she stood there breaking down Ross on my scant behalf. Her face glistened like frost on the cusp of a melt. I bowed my head a bit without taking my eyes from hers…

For a first time novelist to pull off this style of haunting voice is impressive. Nash executes it with meticulous clarity allowing the reader to immediately drop into a vivid waking nightmare. It is obvious that risk taking is Nash’ strength:

I walked back out of the room and angled over to the other side of the living room to where I could see Ross’ door. It was open. On the floor at the bottom of the doorway an arm lay, flung carelessly into the living room area. It was still and bent awkwardly. It was long and thin with just the slightest glint of downy auburn hair riding the top of the forearm. It was not Ross’. I stared at it for at least a minute, looking around and behind me a time or two as if someone might be there to confirm what I saw. Its clumsy crook and peaceful stillness frightened me. It seemed paralyzed or asleep, but only because I did not want to consider the other possibility.

Nash poetically renders this tale of love that is lost, found and murdered in its own right with due justice. He is irrefutably unafraid to explore and excavate the darker side of the all too human yet criminal mind. I suppose each of us, even if we don’t admit to it, has this darker yet human side of our thoughts too. It’s our actions and conscious thoughts that separate us from the monsters of society. This especially comes to play when someone you love has been hurt. This makes novels such as VGE a thrill to read. Allowing the reader an escape all the while pulling back slowly, letting worry and fear bleed out onto its pages. This talent clearly sets Nash apart from the average writer…For Nash to display this level of maturity and the ability to harvest fertile and formidable words and worlds, is a skill that will serve him well. Hopefully he will continue to generate works like VGE, providing gripping experiences for readers of all genres.

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