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The End Of Alice Paperback – Feb 18 1997

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (Feb. 18 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684827107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684827100
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #134,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

The narrator is Chappy, a pedophile who's been locked up in Sing Sing for 23 years for the rape and decapitation of 12-year-old Alice. The tale alternates between Chappy's own story (both outside and inside of prison), and letters he receives from a 19-year-old girl who knows of Alice's fate and wants to start playing with 12-year-old boys. The girl's letters disturb Chappy, bringing his memories vividly to the fore. In prose that is both lyrical and horrifyingly direct, A.M. "Amy" Homes takes us into the minds of the correspondents. Chappy is bright, analytical, and reminiscent of Nabokov in the way he talks about his "Lolita." But the sex is graphic and often bizarre, and the author's tone is chilly, so it's not a book to be picked up lightly. As Daphne Merkin writes in the New York Times, it's a "splashy, not particularly likable book whose best moments are quietly observed and whose underlying themes are more serious than prurient."

From Library Journal

In this deeply disturbing novel, Homes (In a Country of Mothers, LJ 8/93) seems to be attempting to create as repulsive a protagonist as possible-a nameless pedophile serving his 23rd year at Sing Sing. Alongside his narrative is the tale of a 19-year-old college coed obsessed by a preteen boy. A large part of the novel centers on the half-real, half-imagined ties that develop between the convict and the college student as a result of her increasingly graphic letters to him. The rest is a reminiscence of his affair with a 12-year-old seductress named Alice that ends in her gruesome murder. Deliberately shocking and confrontational, Homes's purpose seems to be to force the reader into a kind of Dostoevskian identification with the blackest and most perverse elements of human nature. An optional purchase for larger libraries.
Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Paikov on Aug. 6 2003
Format: Paperback
I would have to disagree with most of the other reviewers, who seem to be divided about equally into the "it's shocking, so it must be good" and the "it's shocking, so it must be bad" camps. Instead I would suggest a third "it's kinda but not really shocking, and even if it sometimes is, so what?" camp.
Even on the level of pure prose, an aspect of the book most readers seem to agree is terrific, isn't really. Instead Homes presents an overblown and overwritten first-person narrative (by the killer) written in a silly and juvenile style I wouldn't have thought possible for any serious writer over the age of 20. Homes fails on every level in making the killer credible or believable as a character, especially a male character, yet still focuses on the killer's backstory instead of the much more interesting but disappointingly underdeveloped story of the girl he corresponds with (filtered through his psyche and mostly or entirely imagined by him). The post-modern narrative tricks are distracting and not very illuminating, more clever than smart, and even the ratio of genuine shocks to limp shock-for-its-own-sake ones, which can be credited only to Homes' constant grandstanding, is extremely unfavorable to say the least. The only reason this one gets three stars is because the girl's story really had some merit and (squandered) potential.
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Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. It is the first book I've read of AM Homes. I am not even sure what else she has written. The writing is brilliant and holds the reader throughout the entire novel. The way she flip flops between Chappy and the girl he corresponds with whilst sitting in jail is a brilliant concept. A few things will be said about Chappy and what's going on in jail or his story about Alice, and right when it comes to an area you would like to more about it would switch to a kind of sub chapter about the life of the girl he is corresponding with, and vice-versa. I hope that makes sense, in other words it's like watching a good television series that continually ends every episode with a cliff hanger. It makes the reader never want to put the book down, at least that's the effect it had on me. I would give it 5 stars and the only reason I didn't is because I think it ended a little too soon with little detail about what happened...I thought it would be a bit more drawn out in the end. You have to read to know what I am talking about. Great book though, and I highly recommend it!!
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Format: Paperback
It's hard to know how to write a review of such a strange and disturbing book. I can start with the "abouts." It's about a convicted pedophile and killer who has been in prison in upstate New York for twenty-three years, a deeply bent personality, but also a tragic figure. He's nameless, an untrustworthy narrator with a confused memory of events and a sometimes very shaky grasp on reality. It's also about Alice, his twelve-year-old victim, who may have been to some extent complicit in her own death -- if the narrator's tale is to be believed. And it's about a college girl, also nameless, who corresponds with the prisoner, describing her own pedophilic activities and asking his advice -- although it's unclear how much of what she tells him actually happened, how much is her imagination, and how much is simply *his* imagination. Homes does an astonishing job of leading the reader to question what "normal" really means, and her masterful control of the narrative brings out the distasteful depths of all the characters. There are no "heroes" in this book, believe me -- not even the narrator when he wreaks a satisfying revenge on a tormentor in the shower. In many ways, to many readers, this will be a horror story, but the truly horrifying thing is that it could very easily all be true.
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By Suze on Feb. 6 2002
Format: Paperback
A.M. Homes has accomplished something remarkable here. She has unflinchingly examined the dual taboos of pedophilia and childhood sexuality without ever bringing her hand to our eyes to block out these truths: An adult might seduce a willing child. A child might seduce a hesitant adult. Without passing judgment, this recognition of the odd fantastical world of prepubescent sexuality is stunning. Ms. Homes does not deal in stereotypes and caricatures here; she creates complex, fully-fashioned individuals, each with their own quirks and reasons, each with a unique psychology driving them.
The End of Alice may be the most horrifying not in its final and bloody depiction of the title, but in its success in allowing the reader to sympathize - even momentarily - with a creature as sickening as a pedophile. It is hard to read about a sociopath as a whole person. It is hard to get into the grey areas of the world, to slide from the easy black and white of wrong and right. But here you have it: the monster as man, the monster as teenage girl, the monster as someone you smile at on the street. The monster in you.
After multiple reads over the past five years, this book still holds me fascinated - by its subject, by its skill, and by the poetry in Homes' language. This isn't exactly a pleasant read, but it will shake you in a way you may not have been shaken before - and it is worth it.
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