Things to note about this book: (1) The writing style is difficult to read, but unwavering in its commitment to a single, skewed point-of-view.
(2) ThThings to note about this book: (1) The writing style is difficult to read, but unwavering in its commitment to a single, skewed point-of-view.
(2) The subject matter is even more difficult to read, and even more unwavering in its commitment to a single, skewed point-of-view.
(3) The structure is difficult to parse. Why this? Why tell this story in this way?
The structure consists of a single narrator, a convicted pedophile serving the 23rd year of who-knows-how-long a prison sentence, writing of his correspondence with a 19-year-old woman who is having an affair with a 12-year-old boy. Rarely, if ever, do we hear the 19-year-old's real voice; we hear only the pedophile's interpretation of her voice, her actions; his identification with her as another budding pedophile; and perhaps most importantly his desire to see her as Alice, whom we quickly understand to be his final victim and the reason for his incarceration. Comparisons to Nabokov may be apropos, but if this is indeed a fin de siecle Lolita, then it takes a great deal more to shock us in the new millennium than it did in 1950. Powerful, perhaps even brilliant, The End of Alice, like Lolita, demands its reader think, lest it become merely an exercise in the grotesque.
I would have given this book 5 stars, because it IS brilliant, but I enjoyed finishing it more than I enjoyed reading it. NOT - I repeat NOT - for the faint of heart. ...more
This entire book is a first-person narrative by a man who has been (or still is) ill as he recounts traumatic events in his childhood that shaped theThis entire book is a first-person narrative by a man who has been (or still is) ill as he recounts traumatic events in his childhood that shaped the man he is today. Set in London's East End in the 1930s / 1950s, the atmosphere is a blend of the boisterous working class pubs he remembers from childhood - and these themselves bring an odd sense of dread - to the drab, fog-drenched streets of bombed-out post-war London.
The writing is paced and beautiful, as a mounting sense of horror builds to a disturbing level of psychological terror reminiscent of the body-horror films of David Cronenberg. I cannot imagine (view spoiler)[what it would be like to be schizophrenic (hide spoiler)], but this novel gives me a good idea of the (view spoiler)[fragmentation, disorientation, and sheer terror that might live within such a mind. (hide spoiler)] This is a brave, original, and disturbing read.
A highly regarded film version, directed by none other than Cronenberg, came out in 2002. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I read this as part of my 2015 reading challenge: "Read a book that got bad reviews." Well, this book, considered by many readers today as something oI read this as part of my 2015 reading challenge: "Read a book that got bad reviews." Well, this book, considered by many readers today as something of a postmodern masterpiece, certainly got bad reviews on its initial publication in 1991. Critics, expecting great things from brat-pack wunderkind Ellis, were instead outraged by the book's violence and misogyny. I recall one reviewer in particular saying, "this book has no redeeming qualities." Hm.
American Psycho is a total immersion experience, a stream-of-consiousness novel from the point of view of 1980s Wall Street uber-Yuppie, Patrick Bateman. His mind - shallow, snobbish, racist, homophobic, obsessed with monetary value and outward appearance, and filled with the increasingly violent fantasies with which he combats his ennui - is not a place you want to be. Disturbing? Very. Unpleasant to read? Often. Relevant? Definitely. Probably even more so today than when it was written. It's brilliantly crafted, but be prepared: Bret Easton Ellis' writing is no holds barred and never breaks character. Ellis sums it up best:
"I was writing about a society in which the surface became the only thing. Everything was surface -- food, clothes -- that is what defined people. So I wrote a book that is all surface action: no narrative, no characters to latch onto, flat, endlessly repetitive. I used comedy to get at the absolute banality of the violence of a perverse decade. Look, it's a very annoying book. But that is how as a writer I took in those years." - Brett Easton Ellis, on writing American Psycho. Read the entire interview here: http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/06/boo... ...more
This is a book that is actually about the BDSM lifestyle that Fifty Shades of Grey likes to think it is about. O enters into this lifestyle because itThis is a book that is actually about the BDSM lifestyle that Fifty Shades of Grey likes to think it is about. O enters into this lifestyle because it is what the man she loves wants, and she pays the ultimate price in objectification (and doesn't even get the man). There is no sugar-coating and no contract, just a growing understanding of the changes this experience creates in O, leading to the final scene where O notes that no one speaks to her: she has become the ultimate submissive and an object of awe and fear to others. The writing is graphic, disturbing, and not for the faint of heart....more
Sharp Objects is just as compulsively readable as Gone Girl, and far more disturbing. Is that even possible? Hell, yes. I feel like I should scrub mySharp Objects is just as compulsively readable as Gone Girl, and far more disturbing. Is that even possible? Hell, yes. I feel like I should scrub my brain with Lysol after reading this.
In the worlds Gillian Flynn creates in her novels, the more beautiful, rich, and perfect you are, the darker your secrets, the more depraved your soul. Set in southern Missouri, Sharp Objects creates a mid-South small town more decaying and corrupt than a Flannery O'Connor story peopled by the cast of Mean Girls and run by a family so dysfunctional it's like reading V.C. Andrews on acid. Oh, and along the way, she out-Poes Poe with moments gruesome enough to make me squirm in my seat. That said, the narrator, Camille, is believably, painfully, hopelessly flawed (the scene where she attempts to patch up her failed relationship with a blow job leaps tragically to mind here); and the town (minus the murders) is far too much like the Arkansas town where I spent two years of high school. (Apparently, judging from this book, nothing changes in that part of the world. I will never go back there. Ever.) Perhaps it is that level of realism, combined with the high Southern drama that made this such a compelling, yet viscerally horrifying read. Truly one of the most disturbing books I have ever read.
Dark Places is set in 1985, following the events of one dark day that culminate in a horrific triple homicide, and 2010, when the lone survivor of theDark Places is set in 1985, following the events of one dark day that culminate in a horrific triple homicide, and 2010, when the lone survivor of the 1985 massacre begins to question her memories of that day and sets out to discover what really happened. For those who love the 1980s, Flynn gives us the dark underbelly of the bubblegum and tube socks decade: the same decade that brought us the 7-year McMartin daycare case, satanic ritual abuse scares that were little more than witch-hunts, suggestive investigative techniques, and repressed memory syndrome. In both eras, Flynn reminds us of some of the darkest places in the human soul - the fixation on violence and the small selfish cruelties that can and sometimes do escalate to tragedy. (The Salem Witch Trial came to mind more than once while reading this.)
As in Sharp Objects, Flynn depicts believably flawed, irreparably damaged characters, and as in that book the final chapters provide glimmers of hope for these survivors of unimaginable horrors. My only problem with this book is that, while neatly plotted, it takes a remarkable level of coincidence for all the events of this book to coalesce as they do. Still, the relentless buildup of these elements makes this book near impossible to put down. ...more
OK, how to describe this book? First let's say you have an evil twin. You know your twin is a bit of a bad seed, but you love hiOne word: Disturbing.
OK, how to describe this book? First let's say you have an evil twin. You know your twin is a bit of a bad seed, but you love him anyway. He's your twin, for pete's sake, and your best friend, or he would be if he weren't such a loner. And you share each other's secrets, including the secret inside the old tobacco tin.
Now let's set the stage: June 1935, the long hot summer stretches ahead of you: fishing trips to the creek, jumping from the hay loft, making home-made root beer, visiting the local carnival, putting on magic shows. The idyllic joys of childhood.
But underneath the pastoral beauty, Connecticut 1935 is a lot like Wisconsin 1895 (Wisconsin Death Trip). Accidents happen on the farm, people get sick. Death is a part of life. First published in 1971, The Other is iconic psychological horror that reads like Dandelion Wine and packs an unexpected punch like it, too. Told largely from a child's point of view, you are not sure what is happening until.... but that would be telling.
Emma Donoghue must've talked to a few five-year-olds before she wrote this, because the narrative, told from point-of-view of five-year-old Jack, is fEmma Donoghue must've talked to a few five-year-olds before she wrote this, because the narrative, told from point-of-view of five-year-old Jack, is flawless. Of course, Jack is not exactly an ordinary five-year-old. He has spent his entire life living in an 11x11 shed, the titular Room and the only world he knows, where his mother has been held prisoner for the last seven years. The narrative is loosely structured in three parts: Jack's life (built around routines) in Room; his and his mother's escape from Room; and Jack's learning to live in the world. Donoghue did do some research on child development when writing this, and that shows. This book is believable and disturbing, but the difficulty of the subject matter is tempered and enriched with beauty, courage, freshness, and Jack's entirely unique take on the world. ...more