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Archive for the ‘Setting: New England’ Category

10. “The End of Alice,” A.M. Homes

January 25, 2010 3 comments

I picked this book up totally randomly when I was walking through the BPL. I think I might have been thinking of EM Forster when I saw the name. I’m actually glad I grabbed it, even though it’s one of those books that makes you really uncomfortable on the T and that you hope no one will ask about.

Because then you’ll have to tell them, “oh I’m reading a (fictional!) first-person narrative of a pedophile who is imprisoned and exchanging salacious letters with a nineteen-year-old woman who is grooming a child she wishes to molest. Eventually it becomes clear that he’s not interested in her, but he is instead attempting to use her to rape the boy by proxy. Like, there’s one scene where he gets really mad when she rapes him too easily, that it’s too much like consensual sex and not enough like stabbing a child dozens of times, and after she’s dead raping her vaginally, orally, and anally then cutting off her head and stuffing it in her crotch because her menarche reminded you of the sexual abuse your mom inflicted on you.”

“Spoiler alert!,” you’ll add.

Anyway, it was really well written, disturbingly vivid in parts. I’d say that I enjoyed it, but I rather like not being a registered sex offender and don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea. So I’ll say that I also took out another of Homes’ books and am looking forward to reading that one.

Page count: 272
Page total: 2,347

58. “Shutter Island,” Dennis Lehane

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

This was a pretty quick read. I liked it a lop better than the previous book I read by Lehane, “Mystic River.”

The story is set in the mid 1950s and is about two US Marshals, Teddy and Chuck, who are dispatched to an island that is home for the “criminally insane,” a bullshit phrase that implies that being crazy is criminal. Most patients are schizophrenic or have other serious mental illnesses and when one escapes, the Marshals are called to help to locate the patient. Along the way the discover some fucked up Nuremberg shit and have to try to figure out a way to get off the heavily-patrolled island. In the middle of a hurricane. It’s being made into a movie and looks pretty good. I secretly love Leonardo DiCaprio.

Lehane was, by the way, my undergrad commencement speaker. He was very good– both funny and poinant.

Page count: 400
Page total: 23,429

37. “An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England,” Brock Clarke

May 25, 2009 Leave a comment

The title is excellent, but the book didn’t do much for me. No one is that big a bumbler. It was both depressing and unrealistic (but sometimes too realistic). I think mainly that it was the reading metaphor that didn’t do much for me. How self-referential can one book get?

In all the bumbling and the “but we’ll get back to that”s, Clarke’s writing did remind me a bit of Vonnegut, though.

First line:

I, Sam Pulsifer, am the man who accidentally burned down the Emily Dickenson House in Amherst, Massachusetts, and who in the process killed two people, for which I spent ten years in prision and, as letters from scholars of American literature tell me, for which I will continue to pay a high price long into the not-so-sweet hereafter. (p.1)

There is something underwhelming about scholarly hatemail– the sad literary allusions, the refusal to use contractions. (p. 8)

Page count: 303
Page total: 17,514