“A stitch of panic rises over that high brow, her back rustling against the vinyl curtain, and here I am, I suddenly realize, five inches taller than the little shrub, the little Napoleon. I just never felt it before.”
And that makes the moment where Addy grows up work, which of course happens at the Big Game, which also works, even if it’s a little hokey. But the part that suffers — the mystery and the revenge plot, the reason the rest of this stuff gets set into motion — withers, not quite sufficient to carry along the stuff built up over it.
(And it actually seems like this is a chronic problem of neo-noir, or of novels that try to use a genre framework as a means to pry into psychological extremes; they shortchange the genre aspects — the momentum of the plot, the satisfaction of reversal and explanation, even the incidentals of landscape and morality — out of a preference for extremes of individual psychology. Not that that’s not an element of noir; it is, but not usually the only one. Dare Me falls in alongside two other very recent, very different novels, in Gone Girl and Broken Harbor, where individual characters, and their authors’ love for these individual characters, dominates a novel and pulls the plot out of focus or out of whack.)
August 11, 2012, 10:55am Comments