|Mick Jackson makes films. It's no surprise, then, that his first novel, The Underground Man, should be so economically told, the action evoking a mise en scÃ¨ne. The novel takes the form of journal entries interspersed with eyewitness accounts from servants and neighbors. The "Underground Man" portrayed in the novel, William John Cavendish Bentinck-Scott, the Duke of Portland and a resident of Nottinghamshire, England, is mightily eccentric; the man was real (1800-1879), as was his eccentricity. Historical fact: the Duke commissioned eight tunnels on his estate. Present-day fact: if you walk the estate today, you see the skylights--2' in diameter and 4" thick. But why did he build them? |
In the last few days of the Duke's life, eccentricity burgeons; madness follows. The reader learns that his odd view of the world was shaped by early tragedy, the full truth of which is withheld until the last few pages.
The Underground Man is that most delectable blend of fact and fiction, one in which the intriguing details of a real life are richly explored through imagination.