the end of alice

The End of AliceThe End of Alice by A.M. Homes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first encountered AM Homes’ writing through her brilliant collection, The Safety of Objects. I was not aware of the controversy she faced with her novel The End Of Alice in the 1990s, but just by hearing the summary, you’d know the story submerged the author in hot water. How could it not? The novel features Chappy, a pedophile, corresponding via prison letters with an unnamed 19-year-old girl who is trying to seduce a 12-year-old boy. It’s a story with an unreliable narrator narrating another unreliable narrator’s narration. Homes is so incredible a writer, so confident of her technique and language, that my attention never wavered. I finished the book fairly quickly. How much of the story is true? We don’t know. Chappy paints himself as a victim, the unnamed girl paints herself as a seductress, but should we believe either of them?

It’s a beautifully written story. It also made me sick. AM Homes once said that she hates it when people say they love reading her books. “Her goal is to unnerve, dig under the skin, maybe piss you off with her fearless honesty, think, and at the same time make you laugh. Quite a feat.”

Quite a feat, indeed, but mission accomplished.

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