Not sure how I felt about this yet - too much or not enough? Too many horrible things and horrible people to process, and yet very spare facts, so thaNot sure how I felt about this yet - too much or not enough? Too many horrible things and horrible people to process, and yet very spare facts, so that in spite of numbers, I didn't get a real scope of the crimes and the victims. To give an idea, this is indeed an alphabetical list of 101 horrible people - some serial killers, some political criminals, some despotic rulers. Each entry is about 2 pages with a brief paragraph or so on the person, name, date of birth and death, often manner of death, upbringing, family background... and THEN a paragraph called "What did they do that was so wrong?" Well, that's some odd phrasing. When you've started your bio by saying the person is a Serial Killer, known as "Serial Killer" - it sounds kind of strange to then ask a question that sounds a little bit like "what's so bad about that?" Most interesting to me was that many entries ended with quotes or comments indicating the person's state of mind about their crimes: some felt they'd done nothing wrong and were heaven-bound, a few knew they had done horrible things and regretted them but felt powerless to stop themselves, some were stone-cold sociopaths with no remorse other than getting caught, and one of these notably went to the gas chamber with the last words "kiss my ass." ...more
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