Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Disturbing Novels

Date: 30 Jun 2008

Ali wrote:

"I found Sharp Objects more distressing than disturbing because of the unreliable narrator."

I think unreliable narrator books have an edge up on the disturbing quotient IF you become invested in the narrator when you still think s/he is reliable AND the transition is done skillfully enough that it does not just come off as a gimmick. I'm hesitant to name titles here, as going into such a book knowing the narrator is unreliable kind of takes the edge off.

Still, this makes me think of Maxim Jakubowski's On Tenderness Express. Also Marc Behm's Eye of the Beholder. These aren't entirely or exactly unreliable narrator books, especially the latter, but books where the initially detached PI becomes increasingly drawn into and complicitous with the disturbing behaviors being observed.

"One recent read I found bleak and disturbing is Schenkel, Andrea Maria's 'The Murder Farm' (translated by Anthea Bell). A slim little book, that like Truman Capote's In Clod Blood, details the murder of a family in a postwar Germany. It reads via a series of police reports and recollections of the locals who liked near the farm."

Not sure why, but this makes me think of Peter Handke's The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick and Alexander Trocchi's Young Adam. Which lead me to Alan Warner's Morgan Callar (not a crime novel). I found them all a bit disturbing for their existential detachment.


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