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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Night Strangers--Chris Bohjalian

Warning:  Anything I write about this book will tell those extensively read in the literature much of what to expect.  While I don't want to interfere with your enjoyment, still I must tell what I have seen.

Ah, revisit Harvest Home and add a large dollop of Bethany's Sin and then stir in more than a little Rosemary's Baby, and then perhaps more than a little of Conjure Wife, and you will have a very clear sense of Mr. Bohjalian's book.

ONe interesting, though not entirely successful aspect of the book is the author's choice to narrate a portion of it in second person.  I can recall offhand only two other such works--Carlos Fuentes's Aura which also had the distinction of being the only book I've read that was written entirely in the future tense and Jay McInerny's Bright Lights, Big City in which the second person narration was like a driving hammer through the entire work.  In this book the device came off as a kind of authorial experiment--I could not determine what real purpose it served other than as a sort of compass--when you were in second person you knew immediately who was narrating.  On the plus side, it was sprinkled here and there and didn't annoy me a some cute and cloying ploy on the part of the author.  The worst that could be said of it is that its purpose was not entirely clear.

While derivative, the book has its own interest and originality.  But it is definitely a return to the land of the lost--where there really isn't any way for good to fight evil and the better part is simply to give in and take from it what one can.

Supernatural thriller and fast read.  ***


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