Monday, May 3, 2010

The Man, The Monster & His Lovers

"To you alone I've told the tale, do with it what you will," concludes the narrator of the A.M. Homes novel, The End of Alice. Granted, he is a rather unreliable source - you begin to question his knowledge, his ability to tell two sides of a story - the ongoing tale of a young college girl who starts a sexual adventure with a 12-year-old boy - and his own lustful, murderous tale of how he landed himself in prison for the last 23 years.

Much like Humbert Humbert, the narrator - and child lover of the still controversial novel, Lolita (anyone who thinks that is the bottom of the pit clearly hasn't read The End of Alice, or anything by the Marquis de Sade) - the narrator of this tale, whose name is unknown, though he is called Chappy by an old acquaintance upon his only visitation, is very informed, well educated and sticks to a strict set of rules. Unlike his counterpart, however, he doesn't make any attempt to hide his monstrosity by making up excuses for his depraved sexual desires of young prepubescent girls - they're on the brink of adolescence; I don't know if we can call this prepubescent.

The story begins through correspondence between the unknown narrator and the unknown college student, who is home for the summer, staying with her parents. She openly admits her desire for a certain 12-year-old boy who lives in the city, and whom she has been stalking for two years. (The only important names we learn in the story are both victims - Matthew and Alice.)  As the story progresses, the narrator is both in love and annoyed by his "student," at times comparing her to Alice - even thinking she is Alice at times. 

A.M. Homes's powerful narrative shines the light upon the most commonly misunderstood individual, all the while never showing mercy - from the beginning to the end, despite his weaknesses, we do not see the man a tormented, a victim of his lusts, but as a monster tormented. 

"I'm not afraid of you anymore, I'm more afraid of myself," the girl ends her correspondence with the child lover, turned child murderer. Much like our narrator, we see that the girl is heading in a similar direction of torture, an attempt to free herself from herself.

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