The Particular Pleasure of an Unreliable Narrator

Some of my favourite questions from customers are when they’d like a certain type of reading experience that isn’t easily searchable in our catalogue.  I’ve had someone come in and ask for fiction written “with wisdom,” another customer ask for a book that “not many people have read that would make a good book club pick,” and yet another request: “something I probably should have read, but haven’t.”  There’s something very satisfying about getting the right book into the hands of these customers.  (Please feel free to ask more often – the dafter the question seems, oftentimes the more fun it can be to answer. The comments space below is a fine place to start.)

I might have read too much Dostoyevsky and Nabokov in my youth, but I’m personally always on the lookout for a good unreliable narrator — bonus points if it comes with a confession.  Most of my all-time favourite books (The Catcher in the Rye, The Secret History, Atonement, to name a few) cover at least one of these two bases exceptionally well.  It’s always gratifying to add another unreliable narrator/confessional book to my mental bookcase.

In the past year I’ve read over a hundred books, and only three of them now sit on this shelf:

 

KevinWe Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver

There is something darkly delicious about the first-person narration of Eva Khatchadourian, the distraught mother of a teenage son, Kevin, who is solely responsible for a Columbine-style school shooting.  Eva is writing to her estranged husband Franklin, while worrying the strands of her guilt – is she responsible for her son’s actions?

 

Gone GirlGone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Between Heidi and myself, we’ve overblogged about this book; I feel guilty mentioning what a superior thriller it is yet again – but not so guilty that I’d leave it out of this post.

 

SchroderSchroder, by Amity Gaige*

Erik Schroder has been living a lie.  As a child, he assumed the identity of Eric Kennedy and fabricated a childhood in Port Hyannis – complete with a distant connection to the famous American family.  Eric Kennedy was such a successful creation, so much more satisfying that Erik Schroder, that Erik has made his way through college, got married and had a daughter all under his alias.  Now Eric is divorced and his wife is threatening to cut off visitation with his daughter, Meadow.  He can’t appeal to the government for help (since he technically doesn’t exist), but is kidnapping Meadow a better option?

–Patricia

(*A big thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this title.)

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