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Hazel

Tony & Susan

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Tony & Susan starts off quite well. Susan recieves a letter and manuscript from Edward, a past love whom she left after having an affair. Edward wrote when they were together but she criticised his work and now he has sent her a manuscript of his new novel, for criticism. He will visit her shortly to discuss what she made of the book. And within this frame, we are given the full text of Edward's book, Nocturnal Animals.

In Nocturnal Animals, Tony and his family are driving home to Maine late one night when they are stopped on the road by three men, later known as Ray, Lou and Turk. They successfully separate Tony from his wife and daughter and dump him far in the woods. Tony makes his way back to civilisation and discovers that his wife and daughter were raped and murdered by Ray and cohorts. The story continues with Tony coming to terms with the aftermath, his feeling of helplessness and lack of control, and with the mechanics of bringing the perpetrators to justice with the slightly off-kilter cop Bobby Andes.

As each chapter passes of Nocturnal Animals, we return to Susan reading and reflecting on what she has just read. She finds herself swept up in Edward's tale, Tony's journey and increasingly disconnected from her real life. As she reads and becomes suffocated by Tony's grief and psychology, she becomes increasingly aware of Edward's arrival date approaching, and she slowly wonders if in the violent tale, Edward has a message for her. That his feelings of what happened between them are being released and realised through the violence that he creates in Tony's safe, family idyll.

As a reader myself, just like Susan, I felt propelled towards the end, to Edward's 'reveal', to his purpose in sending her the manuscript. But it's an unsatisfactory end. The stored violence and feeling expends in nothing. Nocturnal Animals itself isn't a great read either, clumsy and odd at times, I wondered if it was a reflection of Edward's writing or Wright's himself. And as Susan's experiences don't really come to much either, I can't find much to recommend in this book. It just all felt a little pointless really.

I'll be interested to hear what others thought though.

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Could you say a bit about the prose, Hazel? I read in a review online that some of it was awful eg "There was Louise Germane, sweet and vulnerable, smiling vaguely like a child just waked up, and he relieved she was still alive felt tender towards her." which is awful.

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Clumsy and odd at times, silly at other times. I do recall an instance of "alarming penis (or erection)" coupled with "gongs" sounding off. I'll need to grab the book again. The dialogue, at times, especially Ray's dialogue, is quite immature and daft. Considering he is meant to be the 'terror' is pretty poor. In fact during the crime in Nocturnal Animals, Ray is quite scary, but post-incident, he is childish and pathetic and you do wonder what Tony was so intimidated by. I don't know if Edward is trying to say something about Susan here - but if he was, it slipped me by.

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I do recall an instance of "alarming penis (or erection)" coupled with "gongs" sounding off.

To be fair that would be a pretty alarming penis.

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The nocturnal animals part started off quite well, it certainly filled me with dread due to the menace of the situation, but it quickly moved off in a way that didn't interest me.

 

In Nocturnal Animals:

The characters seemed very one dimensional. The Cop basically just wanted to bang up a couple of troublemakers. Tony couldn't remember what his agressors look liked and yet earlier he'd said he'd never forget them.

 

And in the Susan parts there was no real feeling to the rest of her life - I wondered at Wright bothering to mention her children or husband at all really.

 

I wanted so much more from it than it delivered BUT I did like reading it, I wanted to understand what happened next and even though the depth was disappointing the premise was sound. I would hope that someone reads it and thinks I could do something like that but better and then does!

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I wanted so much more from it than it delivered BUT I did like reading it, I wanted to understand what happened next and even though the depth was disappointing the premise was sound. I would hope that someone reads it and thinks I could do something like that but better and then does!

I would agree with most of that. It felt like a wasted opportunity, a waste of a good premise.

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I’m writing this on word before cutting and pasting as I don’t want to read the other responses first, so apologies if I’m going over the same ground as earlier posts.

 

I had got on pretty well with this novel until I started to lose patience with the narrative within the narrative and Edward’s creation, the character Tony. I persevered with the book and finished it today.

 

Like the character Susan I’m working on my responses.

 

I appreciated that the author (via the character Susan) was interested in the idea of a reader’s ongoing response to a work of fiction, how we get or don’t get involved in characters and scenarios, how our real lives impact on our responses because the mundane everyday world interrupts our immersion in the fictional world and our personal stories as readers affect our responses to fictional characters. I found this interesting.

 

I could also see how the author used different styles of writing for the two narratives – the more straightforward style that you would find in thrillers, detective stories etc for Edward’s book and the more clotted type of syntax you find in modern literature when a character’s internal thoughts and memories are worked through. Again, I found this quite interesting.

 

Overall though it didn’t quite work. Perhaps there needs to be just one character you could empathise with, care about or even just detest. I suppose this is isn’t easy when the author is depicting all the contradictions and shades of grey in everyday life.

 

On the whole I’m glad I ordered the book – something different and that good old stand-by ‘thought-provoking’.

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I am just over half-way through this book and felt I needed to know some other views before deciding whether to finish it or not. Having read the above I may well abandon it because I too feel that it has not lived up to its beginning.

 

All the characters who had so much potential seem to have become lame and uninteresting. I could not undeerstand why the police (in the Nocturnal Animals sections) were handling the case in the way they are at the point in the book where I am, and I'm not sure, from reading the above, whther I'll ever find out!

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I'm feeling a little guilty now, after suggesting this one as the curent read. Have to agree with most of the comments- plenty of promise (and premise) but sadly , no, or little, delivery.

Apologies, chaps & chapesses :(

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I'm feeling a little guilty now, after suggesting this one as the curent read. Have to agree with most of the comments- plenty of promise (and premise) but sadly , no, or little, delivery.

Apologies, chaps & chapesses :(

 

No probs! Just good job I got it cheap second-hand :)

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Well, I did finish the book. I have to admit that it was almost a one-dimensional book for me with regard to the characters. None of them seemed to be real or believable and perhaps that is why I was not much bothered what happened to any of them.

 

Susan's relationship with Arnold was never truly cleared up for my liking - or was that just that she decided to put up with the status quo - a bit like Tony in the Noctornal Animals. I didn't feel as if Tonly's anger (and surely he would have felt that emotion) ever came over. In fact there seemed no emotional realism from anyone and perhaps that was what I was hoping for at some point. Even the 'criminals' seemed totally devoid of any emotion.

 

Today the book has been wrapped up as a secret santa parcel for one of my RL reading groups. I feel almost guilty about giving it to someone else to read but there is just a chance I might get another point of view that will be a little more positive!!!

 

Don't feel too guilty tom, after all we are in reading groups in order to get to read books all sorts of books. The fact that some may prove not totally satisfying often engerders more comments. Knowing you are not the only person in the world that did not enjoy a particular book is gratifying in itself.

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I'm feeling a little guilty now, after suggesting this one as the curent read. Have to agree with most of the comments- plenty of promise (and premise) but sadly , no, or little, delivery.

Apologies, chaps & chapesses :(

 

Don't feel sorry - even a Meh (as Hazel put it so well) kind of a book is worthwhile, we've certainly been able to comment and sometimes that's better than when everyone likes a book and goes - 'yeah I liked it'.

 

I am glad I read it.

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I bought this under the impression that it was a classic. I am so unimpressed that I might actually take it back to Waterstones. The Tony story starts with nice summaries of the msin character and his situation which is exactly what I tell my pupils not to do, and the writing is pretty clunky.

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Victoria Coren Mitchell wrote a very satisfying review of the film in yesterday's Guardian for anyone who disliked the book  (and isn't going to see the film)

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/22/nocturnal-animal-film-rape-murder-repulsive

I love Victoria Coren Mitchell's vocabulary and her use thereof.  Says it all for me. Thanks Mm.

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Bloody hell, I read Coren's review of the film last week and liked what she had to say so much I retweeted it. I didn't even realise it was the film of this book that we read 6 years ago! Well, I more than agree with Coren now!

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