Book Review- Nocturnal Animals by Austin Wright
Where do I start? With the Beginning or with just how much I disliked this book?
The book goes back and forth between Susan’s current life and the storyline of the manuscript she is reading that was given to her from her ex husband. He asked her for feedback on his work after twenty years of not speaking to each other. This has taken Susan by surprise of course but I think she is also flattered.
The book is so dark, so upsetting, and was really hard for me to read. Because of the books violent nature I don’t feel comfortable writing a “run of show” if you will. Anything involving children is a sort of limit for me (violence, rape, etc). Honestly the only reason why I was able to finish it was because I was so desperately looking for justice coupled with utter disbelief.
But I do feel like it’s something he could have never written without the betrayal and loss of his marriage to Susan. In a way, the story can be seen as a form of closure, or maybe a coping mechanism, to this past life. In reality, the child was never born and the marriage ended in an all to familiar and ordinary way. But in this story, the emotion and turmoil of this husband for the complete and utter loss of a life’s trajectory and a child that never could have been is portrayed in all of its rawness and brutality. The emotional fragility is brought to the front. You do not feel safe in this book. And just as you need to get out of this horror, the violence becomes surreal as you are brought back to the real character sipping coffee in warm sunlight safely in her home.
Taking this allusion all the way to its fullest, maybe the husbands complete ineptitude in this alternate reality is his way of admitting his faults in real life.
What’s really interesting is that it’s timed perfectly, I found myself putting my book down for a rest the same times she would when she was gathering her thoughts.
I went through a whole array of emotions while reading this book, which to me truly is the beauty that is writing. I found myself wondering how I could have handled certain situations and wondering if I could ever be so naive!
I do not recommend this to everyone, but there is something about it that sticks with you.
Pros: Creative and unique. Very well written, loved the back and forth.
Cons: I hate reading about rape/murder, the ending is vindicating yet disappointing.
Side Note: I watched the movie as well which had incredible creative elements and very artsy. But it defers from the books story line a lot