"The Eyes of the Carp" by T.M. WrightKevin, the deliciously unreliable narrator of T.M. Wright’s "The Eyes of the Carp," loves his wife, works with his hands, enjoys entertaining friends, keeps a dish full of bright, foil-covered Easter egg chocolates to offer his guests, and occasionally explores the inside of his wife’s mouth with the aid of a flashlight as she sleeps at night.
Kevin is witty, smart, hungry for knowledge, curious, resentful, sometimes hilariously so, and to this reader’s delight, very, very weird. Oh, and he also may well be inhuman, but that’s for the reader to decide -- Wright isn’t the sort of storyteller who paints simplistic characters for the simpleton reader; he doesn’t shout Lookie! and point to his characters with a heavy finger for benefit of clarity, rather, he challenges the reader with a conspiratorial elbow nudge and a wink. I like an author who assumes his or her readership is intelligent.
"The Eyes of the Carp" is one of the most authentic representations of psychosis I have read to date, and one of the most disturbing. The narrative is constructed in such a way that sucks the reader in with its deceptive calm, Kevin’s initial trustworthiness and likeability as he rambles on about his new property, the odd things he discovers there, as well as the humorous repartee between Kevin and his wife, Janet. Kevin is a strange one, no doubt about it, but he’s not threatening -- eccentric, perhaps, but definitely not threatening. As is Wright’s style, however, nothing is ever as it seems, and the reader soon begins to worry as Kevin delicately reveals tidbits here and there that seem a bit…off. Something’s wrong with Kevin, something bad.
“Forgive me, I am not Capone, crippled by syphilis, power, and greed. I am Kevin, husband to Janet, son to Lawrence and Margaret, brother to Gwen, Laura, Bobby, Howard, and others unnamed. I have a passion for macaroni and cheese, women with large breasts, the sound of water flowing in the deep woods, brisk April breezes…[I have a passion for] finding quiet bodies in strange locations, living nearly alone, submission by theretofore unwilling women, blind kittens.”
Yes, something is definitely not right with Kevin, and as Wright skillfully leads the reader on a hideous journey through Kevin’s ravaged mind, each new revelation brings with it a palpable chill, a queasy pinch, even as Kevin waxes ridiculous with his random "Gaggle" searches and seemingly arbitrary recounts of childhood memories. It is the randomness, the unforced humor, and the seemingly arbitrary that make Kevin all that more frightening. Wright knows that the devil doesn’t always sport horns, that sometimes evil comes in the beguiling form of an ordinary man who loves his wife, macaroni and cheese, and bright, foil-covered Easter egg chocolates, and that the commonalities between the average man and the monster are greater than we’d like to believe.