Book #15 – Come Closer by Sara Gran
This slim, small book caught my eye on the new books shelf at the library. Since it was in the “literary” section of the new book shelf and seemed to be a ghost story, I picked it up. (It ends up being a possession story, by the by.)
“Show; dont’ tell” is ubiquitous writing advice. It’s the lesson taught first and repeated most often. And like all lessons that are that basic, it’s not entirely true. There’s a balance. Sometimes you show, sometimes you tell. It’s all about manipulating the reader. Gran’s prose is sparse. The book is only 35K. She does a lot of telling, and really, it’s like being told, orally, a decent creepy story. The book it reminds me of most is Bret Easton Ellis’ Lunar Park, which could be its big (much bigger) showing brother. Ellis steeps you in so much minutiae that you have no choice but to be sucked in to the events as they go disturbingly wrong. The downside of this technique is that the read might get bored of it all before anything ‘juicy’ happens. The potential strength of Gran’s style is that the reader is being told, “This is what happened to me. Me. In the life I have that is just like yours.” By leaving out many of the details, the reader is invited to supply what they have in their lives. Maybe that’s what a writer does anytime that make a broad telling statement. For me, this style doesn’t work as well. It makes for quick reading, but it’s like skimming atop a life rather than being sunk into it.
The story itself lacks ambiguity. We’re told, “this is what has happened to me” and we’re only given that telling. It’s a very woman’s perspective. I like some ambiguity, really. That maybe she is just nuts, not possessed. That maybe being possessed really fills a need within the character, despite the horrible things happening. It lacked that bite for me.