The Tale of Brin & Bent and Minno Marylebone (2012)

 

Brin and Bent are poolkeepers at The House for the Grossly Infirm. Their days are spent abusing the House residents, spying on them through holes they have drilled in the walls. They do not know that someone else comes to the pool at night: Minno Marylebone, a child like no other.

Pure and beautiful, every night the child enters the water and becomes celestial, laughing and riding the currents as the pool turns into a sea. Then one night Brin and Bent find the wax that has spilled from Minno’s candle and decide to lie in wait…

 

Details

Graphic novel
Written by Ravi Thornton
Illustrated by Andy Hixon
Published by Jonathan Cape, Penguin Random House

 

Awards/Recognition

Broken Frontier Award for Best Debut Book, 2012 (winner)
Bram Stoker Award for horror writing, 2012 (nomination)

 

Review

Mark Squirek, New York Journal of Books

Deeply discomforting, The Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone mixes evil with redemption and forgiveness on a landscape of terror, which makes the combination of poetry, myth, and illustration within so mesmerizing and vital.

Deeply discomforting, The Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone mixes evil with redemption and forgiveness on a landscape of terror, which makes the combination of poetry, myth, and illustration within so mesmerizing and vital.

Author Ravi Thornton confronts the horrors visited upon us by others with precise, emotive, and deliberate words set amid a cacophony of illustrative noise.

Using overlaid mediums, clear concise images, out of focus perspective, literal cuts with mixed and wildly explosive colors, artist Andy Hixon places the story inside an expansive dimension—one filled with confused meaning that somehow never loses clarity.

With equal parts of disease and healing the artist builds and enhances on Ms. Thornton’s self-described “psychological tale’ which is “metaphorical in every sense.” This is a tale of another world—one that may be either interior or exterior, but a world known to us all.

Through a miracle of fate social outcasts Brin and Bent have found each other. Together they work as pool keepers for an organization and place known as The House for the Grossly Infirm. In their world they are voyeurs who spy on those who have been committed to the House.

The two misuse their authority and responsibility by adding more chlorine to the pool than needed or drilling holes through walls so they can watch as the infirm react to it all. What they see fuels their sex and creates a feeling of validation, a possible compensation for their own inadequacies.

The backdoor to the pool is permanently locked. A child named Minno Marylebone has a key. She uses it at night to quietly swim in soft bliss through the waters made impure by the infirm and their keepers. The visits continue night after night until they are discovered by Brin and Bent.
Working in a world of dreamlike fantasy, Thornton conveys the violence perpetrated by Brin and Bent through the peace and calm of the child’s eye. The outcome of what the two pool keepers perpetrate is a balance between the reality of life and the hope to be found in redemption of the self.

A terrific fable of love and learning, The Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone bears up well under repeated readings. There is always something new to catch your eye or mind.

A word jumps out where you may not have understood it before. A sentence, like the best of poetry, suddenly holds a second or even third meaning. With another reading there is something remarkable in the way that Hixon has staged the lover’s loneliness or in the way that he gives us Minno Marylebone’s eye on what transpires.

Still for all its own beauty—the same disturbing beauty you could find in Todd Browning’s 1932 classic Freaks, Gustave Dore’s 19th century illustrations for Dante’s Inferno, or even Bosch’s depiction of hell in the 15th century triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights—this is an ugly, ugly tale.
One filled with violence and images that some will find disgusting. Like the chlorine employed by the pool keepers that cleans everything, but leaves a horrible, stinging smell in its wake, this story can hurt.

This is not a fable for a child. This is a story for the strong or those who need to be made strong by looking weakness, cruelty, personal foibles, arrogance, and delusion straight in the eye.

For those who are willing, the book is moving and in the end possibly even contemplative.

This is the American release of a graphic novel originally published in England in July of 2012. It has also won the Ninth Annual Broken Frontier Award for Best Debut Book of 2012.