The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold
having deeply enjoyed this author’s book the lovely bones, i was looking forward to diving into this book. and, while i did finish the book, and did find things about it that were worthwhile, i had a hard time. it’s just such a completely depressing story! holy cow.
it’s interesting: i read this book just after finishing howard dully’s non-fiction autobiography, my lobotomy. both stories (this one fiction) involve a horrible, over-bearing, critical, inescapable mother or stepmother. sure made me appreciate my own mom!
the almost moon’s narrator is a middle aged divorcee, who makes her living as a still life model for the art department of a local university. she’s hopelessly enmeshed with an agoraphobic, appearances-are-everything, walking paradox of a mother. with her mother seriously ailing, the narrator kills her in the opening chapter of the book. the rest of the book flashes back to various points in life, as well as playing out the subsequent 24 hours following the murder. it’s a mercy-killing of sorts, but it’s also murder with cause.
and, this is where i can see that — while i didn’t really enjoy the book — it’s a good piece of writing. sebold creates tension and paradox on so many levels in this book. the narrator both loves and hates her mother – this is clear. the murder seems both. the murder also seems moral and completely immoral, at the same time. these paradoxes flood the entire story, in a way that is compelling, but certainly not uplifting.
it’s not that i’m all that into happy-shiny books. but this one left me with almost nothing more than the thought that sebold is a good writer. i will say this: it might make a much more interesting movie than a book.