Title: The End of Alice
Author: A.M. Homes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Personal purchase
The End of Alice treads the wafer-thin line between the evil and the everyday and caused a major controversy when it was first released in the US. The story centres on the correspondence of two paedophiles: one, the narrator, is a middle-aged child-killer serving his twenty-third year in prison; the other, his bland-speaking, sweet-seeming admirer, is a nineteen-year-old woman intent on seducing a young neighbourhood boy. Slowly, through these letters, the narrator's monstrous character emerges.
A.M. Homes is one of my favorite authors. She usually writes about the dark side of life, and does it in a way that puts everything in front of you naked, unashamed, without thinking about the right or the wrong. She's not for everyone, but that doesn't change that fact that she's an amazing writer.
The End of Alice's subjectmatter is a pedophile called Chappy, who's in prison, and a girl who writes him letters. Chappy got in trouble because of a 12-year-old girl called Alice. The girl who writes to Chappy, on the other hand, is feeling similar things for boys younger than she and wants to make them her own. It seems like she's found the perfect penpal who'll understand what she's going through...
A stopped clock is right twice a day.
If you ask me how I ended up liking such a dark, disturbing book, the answer is "it's written by A.M. Homes." She writes so realistically that you can't help but think maybe she herself is a psycho. Also considering the fact that the narrator is a man, you might think the writer is one as well-- but she's not.
Chappy keeps having flashbacks while he's reading the girl's letters, which gives us quite a glimpseof what he's been through, the disturbing urges he has, how he can't resist them and why he's in prison. On the other hand, there is the girl who is in many ways similar to him, but she's running free out in the world. You can't help but think how unfair and relentless life is. Those who are caught are punished; and they deserve it, too. But how about those that aren't caught? Or those who are but then let go?
As you might imagine, The End of Alice has caused quite a stir both in the US and in England when it was first published. Because it's told through the eyes of a pedophile, because it's about prison sex and child rape, the book was not applauded for sure. I'm not defending any of these things, of course, but I also think it's good for people to read books like this to know what evil is and how they can fight it.