Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Friday, May 30, 2014

"Tony and Susan" by Austin Wright

Here's our newest Book Club of Two selection. My husband was frustrated because I started this book just a little bit before he did, and I kept sneaking in a few more pages whenever possible. He was sure he would never catch up. But I couldn't help it! Not only was it well written, full of tension and suspense. Not only did I not want to put it down. It seemed to go even further than that--it was more as if the book wouldn't let me go.

The story is a clever work of metafiction. The main character, Susan, is reading a manuscript (written by her ex-husband) in which the main character is Tony. Tony's story is the more compelling of the two, but Susan's reading of it doesn't dilute the tension of Tony's story. Rather than making us feel removed from Tony's story, Susan's reading of it adds another dimension to it. Susan's reactions, as well as her pauses to ruminate on her reading, intensify the dread of what is coming in Tony's story. 

At first I wanted to call this a mystery, but it's really not. There are no real twists and turns, no need to figure out whodunit, no red herrings (although I kept looking for them, and even thought I'd found a few . . . but I hadn't). It's just a dark trail toward the inevitable, beset with dread. I guess the genre would be considered horror, but Wright seems to dig deeper than King or Koontz usually would. 

This book is a gem, even if the ending left things feeling unresolved. I don't know why I'd never heard of it before. It was well worth the read, though I do have to wonder if it would stand up to a re-read; surely it couldn't have the same effect the second time around. But maybe for a literary amnesiac it would . . .

No comments: