By day and even by night, the peasant can normally go about his lawful avocations in safety. Yet now and again, as he struggles along the more diffic
By day and even by night, the peasant can normally go about his lawful avocations in safety. Yet now and again, as he struggles along the more difficult trails, he may catch a momentary glimpse of eyes in the undergrowth on either side, and hear soft movements and the snapping of twigs ...
This is so close to perfect that it has to be five-starred, in spite of some noticeable quibbles that I can't even remember now.
A master class from the Innocent-Enmeshed-In-Grand-Plot school of suspense, with all the right riffs and pauses to pace the proceedings on an upward, breath-held sweep toward the ending.
Notably present is the coldwar-gray wallpaper of Austerity England, the atmosphere of weary civility that seemed to emanate from the British Twentieth Century... Politely-observed upheavals, then the consequent denial and reflexive return-to-form. That 'carry-on' thing, in spite of the slightly appalling, the unexpected shock, the absurdly transgressive moment when civility shatters.
I was reminded of the atmosphere and vibe of Patrick Hamilton's "Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky"-- that postwar condition of having run on shortages and adrenaline for years on end, the ragged nerves and peculiar veneers of patience that were left in place. Or possibly, of his "Slaves Of Solitude", if... well, if there had been murders in that one.
In his pitch perfect rendition of the Brighton boarding house, Bingham notes the tenor of the sociable surroundings at hand :
"The Bower Hotel, with its overheated rooms and somber exterior was not merely a home for many ... It was an enclave in which there were smooth waters, where sails were easily trimmed to any light breezes which might from time to time arise. Such thunder as was heard came only distantly, from the noisy, brash, modern hinterland, and any lightning was of the harmless, flickering summer type."
The mystery reader may rest easily, though, as all that seaside charm and decorum won't be enough to save the day ... "The Bower Hotel was not fitted to withstand forked lightning of the killer variety. I arrived in time for lunch, and..."
Bingham is as deft as Hamilton with his characterizations, too, driving straight to the point without much abiguity : "...She was a heavily built woman of about fifty, with iron grey hair cut in an old-fashioned bobbed style, a muddy complexion, a square face, and pale blue eyes. She was dressed in a brown blouse, a dark grey cardigan, a skirt of a lighter grey, thick beige stockings, low heeled shoes, and wore a single row of large, cheap, pink artificial pearls. The big square ashtray on her desk by the window was half filled with cigarette stubs. I judged her a woman whom no man had loved. The Hotel was her empire ..."
Into this overarching realm of loss, malaise and had-your-tea-yet-? we are coerced into a Hitchcockian psychological mystery that unfolds with all the bells and (silent) whistles in the night. The beauty of the innocent-man-enmeshed gambit is that it has no need of first-person duplicity or layering-- the innocent is exactly what he is and has much deeper enigmas to solve than the average Conflicted Modern protagonist; no time for your approach-avoidance lark, grandma, just get to your story and be quick about it ...
Rather than expand here my version of what takes place, I recommend this to the interested reader. The perfect winter-staycation read. Ooops, gotta go, that looks like the Constable at the door .. and kind of late for a social visit ... ...more
Like the Dolnick book on the Vermeer forgeries, this stacks up as a compendium of art-world scam and theft alongside of the central thread, which is aLike the Dolnick book on the Vermeer forgeries, this stacks up as a compendium of art-world scam and theft alongside of the central thread, which is about the Munch's Scream theft.
This time out, though, the compendium aspects outweigh the central thread, and by a long shot. The real value of the book is in the asides, the comparisons, the sidebar items. There, the depth of the research really shows, in spite of an overdeveloped appreciation of the main character, (who obviously charmed the author to pieces) the Scotland Yard investigator.
While it sounds like therefore the book isn't worth the read--- well, no, it's very worth it. It's not any less fascinating just because it's a thin story to hang the wealth of info from....
As mentioned elsewhere, there is something of a kinship in the creation of art and the forging or theft of art. Both are a kind of Confidence Game. These similarities are brightly underlined in this book and the Vermeer title; if you're intrigued by the relationship, I recommend you read both books, which are really like two volumes of the same study. ...more
If you've read Chandler, and you've read Hammett ... If you prefer a cigarette to a dame, and a rotgut rye whiskey to both, you'll love this. If you lIf you've read Chandler, and you've read Hammett ... If you prefer a cigarette to a dame, and a rotgut rye whiskey to both, you'll love this. If you like a little Cain, some Goodis or Willeford, even a little raunchy Simenon when he's feeling unreconstructed-- this one is for you.
This is American Gothic, a noir madhouse on wheels. The major opus of cult writer William Lindsay Gresham, this is a fullscale assault on everything legit, anything on the up and up; Nightmare Alley has exactly no characters that have an observable moral compass, nobody who gives a damn. It doesn't succumb to the cliché or conventions of the genre-- it lives for them.
So while the novel has the traditional noir concern for Redemption, (in both popular flavors, Fleeting and Lost)-- there will be no second chances or consolation prizes. Your choice in leading lady, let's see, here we are: either the alluring 'dumb little tomato', or the sympathetic 'double-crossing bitch'. We'll be involved with carny rats, freaks, confidence men, race, sex, dreams, séances, Freud and the Tarot before we're through. The woods are thick, and they're on fire. Keep a move on, pal.
I found it interesting that this is fairly long and rather involved as compared to the typical genre outing, and yet there's not a word wasted, everything counts, nothing is frivolous. This is a one-way ticket to the deadest of dead ends, and there is something transcendental, minimal, about the prose :
The morgue office of Morningside Hospital was a room in the basement inhabited by Jerry, the night attendant, a shelf of ancient ledgers, and a scarred wreck of a desk. There were two kitchen chairs for visitors, a radio, an electric fan for hot nights and an electric heater for cold ones. The fan was going now.
There are a lot of ways to put you in the picture, but generally Gresham just nails it to the floor with the least possible song and dance. Even the matters of existential conflict (and here he prefigures Hjortsberg's Falling Angel, shading the character's every move and introspection with palpable psychic jeopardy, soul-killing hazard), the author moves the narrative along rather than spinning out the melodrama.
If you have the least affection for the categories of pulp, noir, hard-boiled crime or their fellow travelers, I recommend this heartily, as one of the pillars of the genre....more
This would get five stars if I had read it more recently. A complete re-configuration of standard noir / pulp structure & plot-- but with all theThis would get five stars if I had read it more recently. A complete re-configuration of standard noir / pulp structure & plot-- but with all the elements of the classic framework. Everything feels normal and regular, a faithful recreation of the banal world, until it doesn't anymore ... a Maltese Penguin, perhaps....more
Tight, understated mystery that does what a lot of mysteries seem incapable of-- staying internally coherent, keeping up intensity while narrowing in Tight, understated mystery that does what a lot of mysteries seem incapable of-- staying internally coherent, keeping up intensity while narrowing in on its goals. So much else is really optional if the author can keep the story travelling along as he has launched it, at the right tempo and pitch... Landing at unforseen but inevitable places, moments of brief certainty in an uncertain world.
This is one of those first person stories where the author doesn't quite concede the character (or maybe the integrity) of the protagonist, until things are well underway. Definitely influenced by outsiders ala Bowles, Simenon, and Camus, our hero here verges on both darkness and light, so there's an internal hierarchy at work. The confidence tricks and scams that are the day-to-day operations here are the baseline of the story, but the real clash is way overhead, in the realms of morality and, ultimately, meaning itself.
With that double set of primary concerns, what suffers in the book is the atmosphere; the clean, pared-away prose has not enough room for rendering locale, and that is unfortunate. For Japanese readers, it is presumed that they can imagine a clandestine chase through the Tokyo underground, or the environs of Shinjuku at night. For the reader who can picture the detail and rush of modern Japan, there are signposts enough-- but as an investigation of that world, for the unfamiliar westerner, we are left more or less alone.
What makes this such a great book, though, is not what is abbreviated in the description of locale; after all, rendering an intriguing, taut narrative is much more difficult than describing location. By keeping to a spare and almost dreamlike prose, Mr. Nakamura delivers what many western mysteries seem to miss. Which is that the story must follow not just a character as he makes his way through a crisis, but the logical extremes of that character's persona as those sensibilities navigate, perhaps even predict, the way through the inferno. This can be seen as a direct inheritance from pulp and noir; wherein the tragedy, the discontinuity of the environment is mirrored in the tragedy of the character, who reflects that struggle in his misadventure, in a life on the bent side.
What I can't wait to see is what Nakamura does next; this is so nearly-perfect in the basics, that the sky's the limit on how much further he may go. The Night sky, of course. ...more
Not a suspense / espionage in the regular le Carré mode, but a satire of same, and an expansive, elaborate nov Chance Favors The Prepared Mind - Pascal
Not a suspense / espionage in the regular le Carré mode, but a satire of same, and an expansive, elaborate novel at that. Since the demise of the Cold War this author has been casting around for another conflict to narrate, and I'm not sure le Carré has ever allowed himself to be this carried away by his characters and their dramatic entanglements.
That being said, there is an enormous asterisk here. The story of a bourgeois merchant-class civilian who is recruited mistakenly for espionage purposes --and sees his way clear to invent the espionage because the money is so good-- has already been covered, and really well at that. Graham Greene's Our Man In Havana did all that, and le Carré follows with a remixed version here, an homage to the original. And says so on his Acknowledgements page.
You get all the spy-novel twists : the uncomfortable domestic (family, friends, mistress) arrangements, the deceptive moves amongst the colleagues, false alibis, tails, cut-outs, dead-drops and also-- the secondary layer whereby it's all a fiction anyway. After a lifetime as the most recognized spymaster in the business, Mr. le Carré seems to have read Mr. Greene, read deeply and laughed long-- and I think he just couldn't help himself. Hints are dropped throughout that this one acknowledges it's parentage, even down to stray details like buying the pony for the daughter, mirrored exactly in the Havana original.
What makes this a uncommonly good read, then, is not only that le Carré has left off the serious hat and gone for the humorously coincidental, but that it leads him to really lively and visceral prose, not always evident in the dank corridors of the coldwar epics ...
To arrive in his little side street is for Harry Pendel a coming into harbour every time. On some days he may tease himself with the notion that the shop has vanished, been stolen, wiped out by a bomb. Or it was never there in the first place, it was one of his fantasies, something put in his imagination by his late Uncle Benny. But today his visit to the bank has unsettled him, and his eye hunts out the shop and fixes on it the moment he enters the shadow of the tall trees. You're a real house, he tells the rusty-pink Spanish roof tiles winking at him through the foliage. You're not a shop at all. You're the kind of house an orphan dreams of all his life. If only Uncle Benny could see you now.
"Notice the flower-strewn porch there," Pendel asks Benny with a nudge, "inviting you to come inside where it's nice and cool and you'll be looked after like a pasha ?"
"Harry boy, it's the maximum," Uncle Benny implies, touching the brim of his black homburg hat with both his palms at once, which was what he did when he had something cooking. "A shop like that, you can charge a pound for coming through the door."
"And the painted sign, Benny ? P&B scrolled together in a crest, which is what gives the shop its name up and down the town, whether you're in the Club Unión or the Legislative Assembly or the Palace Of Herons itself ? 'Been to P&B lately ?' 'There goes old so-and-so in his P&B suit.' That's the way they talk round here, Benny !"
"I've said it before, Harry boy, I'll say it agin. You've got the fluence. You've got the rock of eye. Who gave it you I'll always wonder..."
His courage near enough restored ... Harry Pendel mounts the steps to start his working day.
For much of the book things swirl along like this, with a kind of Walter Mitty of unintentional spies doing the narrating. Fearlessly le Carré plunges into the plot and it's cluster-verse of interconnections, making it feel both inevitable and wildly improvisatory at once.
As with many inadvisable schoolboy fancies, and even moreso those in midlife that gamble fortune and stability, things end not so well. Eventually the lighthearted and fanciful Harry Pendel is cornered, and driven to the distasteful side of spycraft, as much by realities as by creations of his own imagination, and the whole scheme goes squirrelly. (The scheme itself, called "Buchan" in the secret papers (and it's participants Buchaneers) is clearly another in the line of references le Carré is willing to entertain for humor's sake).
Interestingly, le Carré isn't done with homages, though, and invokes the enveloping desperation of Lowry's Under The Volcano, another tale of expatriate self-delusion and its discontents. The scenes of Harry walking alone through the Panamanian religious festival at the end, under hails of fireworks and under his own yoke of guilt, evoke that same conflict, cross-cultural setting intact :
Pendel was walking, and people in white were walking beside him, leading him to the gallows. He was pleasantly surprised to find himself so reconciled to death... He had never doubted that Panama had more angels per acre, more white crinolines and flowered headdresses, perfect shoulders, cooking smells, music, dancing, laughter, more drunks, malign policemen and lethal fireworks than any comparable paradise twenty times its size, and here they were assembled to escort him. And he was very gratified to discover bands playing, and competing folk dance teams, with gangly, romantic-eyed black men in cricket blazers and white shoes and flat hands that lovingly moulded the air round their partners' gyrating haunches. And to see that the double doors of the church were pulled open to give the Holy Virgin a grandstand view of the bacchanalia outside, whether She wanted it or not... He was walking slowly, as condemned men will, keeping to the centre of the street and smiling ...
Finally, too direct to be a coincidence, that spectral Uncle Benny that keeps advising Harry from the Other Side-- is familiar too. Himself a con-man who's been responsible early in Harry's life for a few mishaps, Uncle Ben is the seasoned flim-flammer whose advice Harry cherishes in his dodgy spy endeavors. A character from another, long-ago tragedy of the merchant-class, this ghost was also named Uncle Ben, a raconteur that advised protagonist Willy Loman, in Death Of A Salesman, another ill-fated dreamer.
Not sure what le Carré was up to with all of this, and not sure he was after hooking in old lit-majors to find the references, but they are there. On a technical level this book is really brilliantly written; the structural complexity at hand is no match for Mr le Carré's craft & execution. I am knocked out by the concision, the considerable expertise at large-ensemble-cast writing.
But in the end this is a practice-piece, an excercise for le Carré. He has dressed this design in an amazing skin and cloak of colors, but the bones will always belong -- to Graham Greene.
"We’re brought up to trust and could hardly function otherwise. The cop who pulls us over to write a ticket must be a cop because he wears the uniform"We’re brought up to trust and could hardly function otherwise. The cop who pulls us over to write a ticket must be a cop because he wears the uniform; the bank teller to whom we hand our paycheck is depositing it, not stealing it, because he works behind a marble counter; the nurse who places our newborn in our arms is really a nurse because she’s holding our baby, and our baby is our baby because she’s holding it. When trust is abused, the need for it persists. Trust was crumbling everywhere just then..."
In photography, there are the great-subject kinds of works, like maybe the spectaculars of Ansel Adams, where something tremendous compels an artist to try to evoke the grandeur of the scene. The more intriguing kind of photography is the interested-observer branch, where the subject might never attract notice if it were not for the viewpoint or vision that the photographer brings.
This is certainly one of those great-subject cases; the facts at hand are entirely astounding, on their own. The story of Clark Rockefeller has everything -- an in-depth tour of a grand neurosis, a freakshow story of confidences built and betrayed, an unspooling nightmare on every turn of the page.
Kirn does well enough to marshal the facts and spin a clear rendition of this multiform narrative; his drifts toward hunter-thompsonish Immersion Journalism are, well, his thing. He was there, it's his call.
But being that the case is itself so unique, he has left himself open to questions about how he would tell the tale. His own experiences with parenthood and divorce, career paths and drug abuse are well, again, his idea of what was necessary in this book. There are other, presumably objective renditions out there of this same true-crime story, and you as reader would turn to this one only if you wanted the inside track. Well, here it is, though often enough sharing way too much about the author and his narcissist streak than is really required to set the stage.
In the end, when all the tumblers fall and the lock turns to open up the mystery, Kirn has settled on the wrong meme to land on. I don't think it's a spoiler to say, even in the land of Grand Deception and unexpected details meaning more than they appear, that the fate of a pedigreed dog really matters much, or was the right topic to close the story.
It is Kirn's problem that there has been no real solution-- as in verified, detailed explanation -- to the significant central enigma of the book, the murder of a human being. He obviously needed to get this book out before rather than after the actual solution was able to reach the light of day.
And that's why he ends on the stupid little detail of the dog; he has to stay enigmatic if he wants to publish now, rather than wagering on when that the actual truth might ever emerge. Kind of a narrative dealbreaker, I'm saying. If I were being suspicious I'd guess that Kirn thinks he's got volume two of this, coming down the bunny trail once the case is settled for certain.
Crazy, crazy story, though, whatever you may think of the author's handling. And a kind of necessary entry, in the big, overall book of Imposters and Con Artists, always an interesting study.
Finally, in the quibble department, Kirn makes a point of noting, regarding a forged painting, that "..he even names the particular Motherwell.." as Elegy To The Spanish Republic. The thing is, almost all of Motherwell's most famous paintings were called that. Kind of like saying, we know the particular method of how the killer got there-- in an automobile. Uhm, yeah. ...more
This is a good solid account of a very intriguing history. Actual story of intel operations in wartorn Europe ... deception, deals, camouflage, disinfThis is a good solid account of a very intriguing history. Actual story of intel operations in wartorn Europe ... deception, deals, camouflage, disinformation, scams, trickery ... spymasters and double agents galore. And with the protagonist a convicted felon, every trick has a few extra layers.
The tiniest details tell a lot : when they wanted to convince the other side that a certain secret chunk of war technology was available, deadly and miniaturized for easy concealment, the British Secret Service set about passing a story and a photo through the lines, via a double agent. He carried a special photo of the gizmo shown next to a wooden inch-ruler, to show scale. The other side wouldn't have known that the gizmo was real but the ruler was carefully constructed to be way over-scale, thus telling a slightly shady story of the miniaturization and the resulting deadliness....
MacIntyre has assembled a full slate of character & plot here, and does a lot better than 'Forgotten Fatherland: The Search for Elisabeth Nietzsche' which had some dull expanses along the way.
This is a great snowed-in winter weekend read, no fluff & no filler. Kind of like if the History Channel weren't quite so sleep-inducing.
Art theft and Art forgery go hand in glove, and both have always been of interest to me for some reason. Maybe it's the inherent sleight-of-hand in alArt theft and Art forgery go hand in glove, and both have always been of interest to me for some reason. Maybe it's the inherent sleight-of-hand in all the arts -- can you really paint a woman's face without daVinci coming to mind, can you really write a tragic play without thinking of the greeks ? For the moderns, this legerdemain was taken in stride, exalted even, by the time of say, Duchamp & Pablo P. But there was theft for art's sake and theft for theft's sake, and therein lies the tale.
Dolnick's basic plot lines--- the Real Events ---- are magic; he does a fair amount with what he's got, but it would take a ridiculously bad writer to foul up this particular story.
There's a well-characterized forger, one who stands in the classic position of having his serious work shunned by the 'serious' art-world. He's the right man (a prosperous commercial artist) in the right place (Holland of the Dutch Masters), with the right science and skills (adequate painter and highly imaginative psychological warrior) and he just happens to be in the right Time, as well......
Without giving away the two or three oddities in this otherwise-conventional Forgery-Theft-&-Apprehension-By-The-Law, it's worth noting that conditions in continental Europe just before the War were astoundingly ripe for some artistic fudging of the artistic facts, and our protagonist van Meegeren played it beautifully.
So beautifully, in fact, that come his trial --and I don't want to give away why---- his entire defense was consumed by proving that he was guilty of the forgery in question, beyond any shadow of a doubt.
An art forger tale with a twist. Couple of nice chapters on the radical ingeniousness of not copying the Master too comprehensively.... kind of a be-careful-for-the-scrutiny-you-wish-for scenario .... Only the Master would take certain detours, a forger would only copy what was already done.....
Oh, and here's a brief side-anecdote, one that speaks to the integrity aspects of the artworld denizens. Here's a collector / curator named Hannema.....
He roamed Europe in search of bargains, poking into tiny galleries and wooing prospective donors. Hannema's taste was eclectic--tribal artifacts from New Guinea, old masters, Japandese swords. He pursued art wherever the trail led. In Paris one day, where he had been invited to look at a Georges de La Tour, he found a family in mourning. Perhaps it would be better to come back tomorrow ? No, monsieur, please. Today would be best; the funeral will be tomorrow. "I did not feel good about it," Hannema recalled, "but La Tour was just beginning to draw attention, and maybe I could pick it up for a reasonable price." The black-clad family pushed Hannema into a candle-lit room. The painting hung on the wall above an old, emaciated woman, lying dead in her bed. "Please, monsieur. Just look." Hannema took off his shoes, borrowed a flashlight, and climbed onto the bed. The old woman's body shifted a bit as Hannema studied the painting from different angles. It was a pleasant picture, he announced when he turned off the flashlight, but unfortunately, a fake.
This should have been good, really good. If ever there were a time, an atmosphere, and an uncontrollable set of dire circumstances... this should haveThis should have been good, really good. If ever there were a time, an atmosphere, and an uncontrollable set of dire circumstances... this should have been it.
The poisoned letter, the deliberate leak, the crossed signals, the defamatory compliment and the conspiracy-writ-large ... working against the backdrop of modern Europe being born anew, as the industrial age electrified and quickened the pulse ...
This should have been the Author, and the ostensible subject, the storied Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion, the Vehicle ...
Eco gives us not one but a trinity of narrators, two of whom are personality-shifting secret-sharers, and the third dimly omniscient, a touch disinterested. Which is fine, this is Umberto Eco, this won't be easy going. Our central protagonist introduces himself as an Indicateur-- right off the bat, a literal walking, talking Signifier; okay, fine again. Show us the magic.
There are moments, there is some real backspin on the commentary about the Masons and the Jesuits, amongst many others; safe to say that no secular or religious organization gets away unscathed. We are living in the time of The Paris Commune, and the world is upside down in a swirl of influence and upset. Humankind as a category is under withering attack all the way, and all that should set the stage for something, one might imagine.
When Napoleon III and the French Empire crash, the conditions become surreal in the City Of Light :
I understood little and cared less about the political intrigues and the marches in various parts of the city, and felt at such times it was better not to be seen around too much. But the question of food did concern me, and each day I kept up-to-date with the local shopkeepers about what we might expect. When I walked through public gardens like the Jardin du Luxembourg, it seemed at first as if the city had been overrun with livestock, as sheep and cows had been herded inside the city walls. But by October it was said that no more than twenty-five thousand oxen and a hundred thousand rams were left, which was not enough to feed a metropolis.
Slowly households were reduced to frying goldfish, hippophagy was killing off every horse not under the protection of the army, a bushel of potatoes cost thirty francs, and Boissier the grocer was selling a box of lentils for twenty-five. Rabbits were nowhere to be seen, and butchers did not hesitate to display fine, plump cats, and later, dogs. All the exotic animals in the Jardin des Plantes were killed for meat, and on Christmas night, for those with money to spend, a sumptuous menu was on offer at Voisin, with elephant consommé, roast camel à l'anglaise, jugged kangaroo, bear chops au sauce poivrade, antelope terrine with truffles and cat garnished with baby mice, since not only had sparrows vanished from the rooftops but mice and rats were disappearing from the sewers. The camel was acceptable, and not too bad-tasting, but rats, no.
So an unparalleled sense of frisson in the atmosphere, a Grand Conspiracy at hand, locations as diverse as Naples, Turin, Sicily and Paris--- an enormous cast of characters that includes Dumas, Zola, and Freud-- and, and-- oh, yes, a full-dress Black Mass, and ---
Well, streaming lists of events, an avalanche of factoids, a conspiracy-theorist's wikipedia, and a tour of the ramparts of 19th century cult movements. Tied up neatly, Mr Eco might think, with his shape-shifting narration team.
Not so, it seems to me. There is no heart in this ungainly beast....more
Some novels are brilliant, extravagant failures, grand disasters where a reviewer can't help but want to kick at the wreckage and try to figure out whSome novels are brilliant, extravagant failures, grand disasters where a reviewer can't help but want to kick at the wreckage and try to figure out what may have gone wrong.
Not so the case here, as what we have is supremely formulaic and trite, though fairly well-constructed, in the same sense that episodic television is often well-constructed. In the sense that one thing leads to another, and the reader knows it will only be one of a standard set of solutions / entanglements that crop up next.
Let's not be overly positive though. There is, however you view it, a lot of dialogue here, and a lot of dialogue that goes like this:
"That's not what I mean!" "Do you have anything to drink?" "Hurry!" "Let's have a drink." "Then what do you mean?" "Wait!" "I'm having another drink." "Has Richard heard this yet?" "Quietly!" "What?" "Let's go tell Camilla!" "What do you mean, and has Richard heard this?" "Wait, where is Richard?" "You can't mean--" "Are we getting a drink now?" "Quickly!"
This edition of The Secret History has blurbs that compare Ms.Tartt to Poe, Shakespeare, William Golding, Ruth Rendell, Waugh, Dickens, GB Shaw, Dostoyevsky and Fitzgerald. Oh, and yes, also to Bret Easton Ellis. They suggest similarities to The Telltale Heart and The Lord Of The Flies.
I would suggest that it more closely resembles Stephen King, perhaps trying his hand at a season's worth of General Hospital plots, or a few interrelated episodes of Dark Shadows. By the time I was halfway thru I was reading as fast as I possibly could. But not from tension, anticipation or curiosity. Rather, to get it over with. Quickly ! ...more