NEW: Analysis of Tony and Susan

BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
This post contains a lot of spoilers about Tony and Susan. Also, Nocturnal Animals, the film adaptation.

Despite only being around 400 pages long, this book is a complex one and gives you a lot to think about after it’s over. I’m going to analyse this book in a bit of an unusual way and talk about the ending first, because it sets the pace, and pretty much forces you to think about the novel in a certain way. The ending isn’t a conclusion. It’s more like the beginning of something else – what that something is is up for the reader to decide.

Does Edward ever reply to Susan’s note? Does she leave Arnold? Do she and Edward ever get back together?

Here’s what I think.

The novel isn’t about people doing things; it’s about people’s failure to do things. Edward sends Susan the novel because he couldn’t bring himself to express his emotions plainly and clearly after the divorce. He had years to dwell on it while he was single (or was he? Maybe he wasn’t, but he could just never really get over Susan.) Either way, it’s clear the break-up has affected him in quite a significant way, and sending the novel to Susan is his way of expressing how she made him feel.

But why all the violence? couldn’t Edward simply have written a story about a failed relationship, to say it in plainer terms? I don’t think so. Edward wanted to intimidate Susan and make her feel scared. I think he also, to an extent, wanted to make her question marriage as a concept. He’s asking her: can you ever really trust people. Did she really ever know him?

At this point, it’s important to think about the way Susan describes Edward when they first met. He was sexually inexperienced, polite, without a hint of danger about him. He was a virgin, which means Susan likely held more power when it came to sex. The takeaway here shouldn’t be that Susan is somehow to blame for what happens in the future, but that the Edward of the past and that the current Edward are like two completely different people.
Of course, this scene serves a narrative purpose; we want to know how exactly Susan came to divorce him and marry Edward. But aside from that, it makes us realise that Edward has transformed from that shy person into a vengeful, possibly violent person, capable of writing a novel solely to torment his ex-wife.

This isn’t the only side to his personality, though. Although he’s turned into a bitter person, he’s still unable to express himself emotionally, just as he was then. The violence in the novel is his way of expressing anger towards Susan, her family. At the start of the novel, it stands to reason that Edward had imagined Tony as himself, but I think it’s more likely that Tony is Arnold (Susan’s current husband), and Edward is Ray (his novel’s main antagonist.)

If that’s true, it’s also important to consider whether Susan believes Edward is Tony or Ray. From reading the ending, you do get the sense that Susan has a few reservations about explaining her opinions clearly to Edward, which is why she rips up the original letter she’s written doing so.
In a way, I think Susan wants to meet Edward, leave Arnold and go back to him. I think she’s unsatisfied with her love life, and is desperate for some excitement before it becomes too late in life to go after it, which is why why she sends him the brief note, offering to meet and discuss the novel with him.

But what are you supposed to make of that ending? Edward could have met Susan at the Marriott and discussed the novel. I don’t think he ever had the intention. It seems clear to me that his only reason for writing the novel was to disturb Susan, to get her attention. But how far will Edward go to get revenge on her? There’s no real way to know, and all you can do is draw your own conclusions.

Personally, I think the novel would have had a pretty harrowing ending if it had continued, but who knows? Maybe Austin Wright just wanted to leave us in the dark.

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NEW: Book Haul

It’s that time of the month. The first week of January has passed, and the books I ordered have started to arrive in the mail. This month, the selection is pretty thin because my bank account is still reeling from Christmas, but these are some pretty promising picks. Usually, I try to get books from a few different genres, or about a couple of different subject matters. Anyway, I’ll get into it.

BOOK 1:
Let The Right One In

AUTHOR:
John Ajvide Lindqvist

SYNOPSIS:
“Twelve-year-old Oskar is an outside: bullied at school, dreaming about his absentee father, bored with life on a dreary housing estate. One evening he meets the mysterious Eli As a romance blossoms between them, Oskar discovers Eli’s dark secret – she is a 200-year-old vampire, forever frozen in childhood, and condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood.”

THOUGHTS:
I’m kind of on the fence about this book. I enjoyed the film, but although it was pretty well-received by critics and fans, I wasn’t as blown away as most. Still, I admired how unique it was in comparison to most other vampire stories, and enjoyed the story. I guess I’m expecting more of the same from this book. It won’t be too demanding, but won’t be too simplistic either. It seems like it’d be a good book to read while going on a long train or plane journey. At worst, it’ll be a fairly entertaining, breezy read.

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BOOK 2:
The Girls

AUTHOR:
Emma Cline

SYNOPSIS:
“Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiates heat.

Until she notices them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russel and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?”

THOUGHTS:
‘The Girls’ seem to have been the words on everyone’s lips this year. And the market reflects that: the RRP of the thing is 12.99 (GBP.) I think the book sounds interesting. Emma Cline’s taken a familiar narrative concept and paired it with something that’s distant enough for people to be unfamiliar with it, even if they were alive at the time, yet contemporary enough to still be interesting. I’ve got high hopes for this one, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

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BOOK 3:
The Haters

AUTHOR:
Jesse Andrews

SYNOPSIS:
“Corey and Wes are convinced nothing cool can come of their lame summer at jazz camp, when along comes Ash – all blonde hair and brash words – who cracks their world wide open. Finally, something they can’t seem to hate. Convinced that a great musician is made on the road, the three friends flee camp and begin an epic, hilarious road trip: The Haters Summer of Hate tour.”

THOUGHTS:
I was a big fan of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and there’s not much to say about this one except I think it’ll be more of the same. Maybe it’ll have more of a lighthearted story, but I think it’ll be packed with his dry humour. I’m not expecting anything groundbreaking, but I think it’ll be entertaining enough.

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BOOK 4:
Dance Dance Dance

AUTHOR:
Haruki Murakami

SYNOPSIS:
“High-class call girls billed to Mastercard. A psychic thirteen-year-old drop-out with a passion for Talking Heads. A hunky matinee idol domed to play dentists and teachers. A one-armed beach-combing poet, an uptight hotel clerk and one very bemused narrator caught in the web of advanced capitalist mayhem. Combine this offbeat cast of characters with Murakami’s idiosyncratic prose and out comes Dance Dance Dance. It is an assault on the senses, part murder mystery, part metaphysical speculation: a fable for our times catchy as a rock song blasting from the window of a sports car.”

THOUGHTS:
I’ve read a few Murakami books before, and if you’ve done so, too, you’ll probably know roughly what you expect before you’ve even turned to the first page of one of his novels. Still, I think he has a knack for surprising people and bringing something new to each one of his books. Of all the books I bought this month, I’m probably looking forward to this one the most.

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REVIEW: Tony and Susan (republished as Nocturnal Animals)

AUTHOR:
Austin Wright

FILM ADAPTATION:
Yes

SYNOPSIS:
Susan Morrow is a (re)married woman who lives in L.A with her husband, Arnold. Their marriage is slowly unravelling, and she’s surprised when, one day, she receives a manuscript from her ex-husband, which is a novel that he’s written. He also tells Susan that he’s coming into the city soon and asks her if she’d like to meet. She agrees. As she starts reading, she asks herself: why is the novel so violent? And why, after all these years, did he choose to send it to her?

REVIEW:

When I picked up this book, I knew pretty much nothing about it. I was in London, on the way home, and needed something to read on the train. I knew there was a film out based on it which had been fairly well-received (hence the new title), so I decided to go for this one.
It was on sale in WH Smiths, for £4. It was a bestseller, and I was expecting something fast-paced, full of twists and punchy writing. The book does have punchy writing, but it doesn’t really have twists. Really, it’s two things, the first being a drama about a failing relationship, and the second a crime thriller.

What makes the novel so unique is its narrative style. There are two story strands. One describes what’s happening in ‘real life’ in the novel; we read about Susan talking to her husband, describing what her children are doing, thinking about how she met Edward, and subsequently her second husband. The second is ‘Nocturnal Animals,’ the title of the novel Edward has written: these parts of the novel summarize each chapter of the fictional book.

In the end, those sections are where the novel really shines. They’re pacy, smartly written, and never feel boring, which is exactly what you want from a novel of this kind. The book’s momentum does wane a little in the parts based on Susan’s real life, but doesn’t mean they’re bad by any means. The two sections complement each-other very well, too. Without Susan’s inner thoughts, the ‘Nocturnal Animals’ sections would be redundant and vice versa.

I enjoyed this book a lot. The novel’s fast-paced, always keeps you curious about what’s going to happen next, and the story is very complicated. The book is only 400 pages, but a lot goes on in them, and the end allows you to draw your own conclusions, which means it stays with you for days after you’ve finished reading it.

SCORE:
9/10

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First Post – An Explanation

Hi.

If you’re reading this, thanks. As a writer, having someone take an interest in you is one of the most generous things people can do, and if you’re here, chances are that’s what you’re doing. If you are doing that, and not looking here for some other reason, you’ve come to the right place. On this website, I intend to list all of the places you can buy my currently published work, and stuff that I may (or may not) self-publish in the future.

So far, I only have two published stories. One of those is available for free online, and one of those is available as part of a Manchester-based anthology called NOUS Magazine. It’s a great publication, and if you don’t buy the issue my story is published in (issue 7, the Work issue), then consider buying one that appeals more to you.

Anyway, this is going to be a short post, but I’ll post links to stuff that’s free and stuff that’s not in the menu (top right), and hopefully there’ll be more stuff coming in the future.

Thanks for reading,
Frazer