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The End of Alice: A Novel Hardcover – March 4, 1996

112 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

A novel that shines a flashlight under the bed of suburban perversity. A. M. Homes, whom the N.Y. Times Book Review calls "exhilaratingly perverse," lures us into a Nabokovian world where characters both repellent and seductive conduct forays into the dark limits of their obsessions.

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (March 4, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684815281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684815282
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By David J. Loftus on February 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am tempted to call this a beautiful book in the same way that I feel the movie of "The Loved One," a very black-humored farce about funerals and death, is beautiful: It masterfully accomplishes what it sets out to do.
In rich, imaginative prose, Homes tells a compelling tale with all the fascination of a fatal car wreck and a cobra preparing to strike. If you found Nabokov's _Lolita_ disturbing, if you couldn't stomach Ellis's skillful but satirical and cold _American Psycho_, stay away from this book. It has both the warmth and tenderness of the former, and the in-your-face graphicness of the latter (probably even more in-your-face because of the warmth and tenderness). People have referred to the pedophilia, masturbation, and murder; don't forget homosexual prison sex and rape ... and how do you feel about saving scabs in a drawer for chewing and sucking on later?
Some of the other Amazon reviews here have been utterly hilarious: Homes should include them in splash pages of subsequent editions. There are the usual encomia and expressions of disgust, but "Billy Graham could just as well have written this"? uhum37 also complains that "every character remains profoundly moral" -- another judgment I cannot understand for the life of me, but I will nevertheless respond that the characters are telling their own stories (the 19-year-old's is additionally filtered through the sensibility of the narrator, for the most part -- and of course they are apt to regard themselves as moral.
Reviewers also ask the wrong questions. "Does this story need to be told?" one reader queried on 6/4/97. Of course not. No story "needs" to be told, whether it's Alice In Wonderland or Waiting for Godot.
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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this 1996 novel by A.M. Homes when it was first published, but just thinking about it still gives me the shivers. It's a scary book, mostly because it forces the reader's mind to think in a sick and grotesque way.
The narrator is a 54-year old pervert who serving time in Sing Sing for the rape and murder of a 12-year old girl. He has served 23 years already when he receives a letter from a 19-year old girl who is planning to seduce a 12-year old boy. A correspondence follows which forces the pedophile's memory to reveal the most shocking and lurid details of his crimes.
This was easily one of the most disgusting books I ever read. The act of reading it made me nauseous, but yet I applaud the author for her courage to write it and do recommend it to the few brave souls who are willing to experience its horrific roller coaster ride.
But be forewarned: the disgust and revulsion last long after the book is finished, and its essence is impossible to forget.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Zimbeline on June 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I initially wrote this review on June 19th, 2000 and changed the viewing to private. The memory of the book has lingered, so I decided to again make public my review and update.

"Having always been most intrigued by the shadowy side of the human psyche, I was initially fascinated with the twisted, dark tale unfolding. At times, it was difficult to follow, but the human mind is a complex thing. The 19-year-old's descent into depravity was worth the price of the book. Which, upon finishing the novel, makes me glad I bought it [discounted].... Because by the end, that is about all the book is worth. As an avid collector of books, I will not be saving this one for my library. The final fourth of the book was so very disappointing. I was not shocked, nor repulsed by the final revelations, I was far too annoyed with the story by that point. For all that the book was built up to be, by reviewers and by the initial reading of the first 200 pages, it suddenly spiraled out of control, crashed and burned. A discordant finish with jangling ends to such a rich, darkly disturbing composition. Nabakov, it is not. It stands on it's own, good or bad." KM 06/19/2000

Addendum and Update: 5 years later after reading this book, like the majority of other reviewers, I have been unable to forget it. The disgust and horror remains. This book does have the ability to take you to the darker places of the soul and leave an indelible mark there. Evil is a very human quality, not relegated to the isolate domain of demons and bogeymen.

Frederich Nietzsche said: "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.

And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you."

"The End of Alice" is a look into the abyss.

Few books have that lasting effect on the psyche like this one.

You'll either love it or hate it, but you might never forget it.

KM 06/12/2005
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By C. Burgess on October 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Before I talk about the subject matter, and why I believe this is an important and courageous book, let me comment on the writing. I found Homes' dreamlike, almost surreal style difficult to follow at first. Some of the diction and sentence structures seemed odd to me, and I was forced to slow down and read carefully to fully understand what was being said. After a while, I grew to love this style. It's strangely engaging, much like to book itself, and it lets you absorb the power of the words you are reading rather than speed through them.
As for the story itself, I was blown away. Homes really gets into the heads of the main characters and accurately (I think) captures the thoughts, emotions and motivations of, in turn, a 19-year old girl bursting with sexuality, a 12-year old boy on the cusp of discovering his own sexuality and a 60-something sex offender struggling with his inner demons. I found all three portrayals to be convincing. And what a story! At various times in the book, I was repelled, confused, aroused, disgusted or amazed, but I was never, ever bored. Some of those scenes will stay with me for many years, I'm sure. It's a challanging and controversal book, to be sure, but it reveals some truths about sexual power and attraction better than any non-fiction book could.
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