Thursday, May 4, 2017
by Dan Chaon
Ballantine Books, 2017
480 pages Literary Thriller
"When you've been abused in the way you were, you have a virus. And the virus will demand that you pass it on to someone else. You don't even have that much of a choice."
I read Ill Will by Dan Chaon when I was on a month off from writing about books, and now I am a month away from having finished it. I believe it was one of the most messed up (if I were a swearing person, I would say "f****d up") books I have ever read. And I am not alone. The reviewer in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette calls it the "most disturbing novel I've ever read."
The plot in one sentence: Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception. (I received an ebook from the publisher.)
Here is what I appreciated. Ill Will was very skillfully designed. Cleverly designed. Ill Will kept me totally disoriented. It very adroitly moves from past to present; it changes narrators; sometimes it has three narrations going in columns (pretty hard to read on a Kindle, by the way). Did I mention that it was totally messed up? Also, it doesn't end very satisfactorily, although the reader knows, without a doubt, that all is not going to end pleasantly. Chaon's intent is to disturb our equilibrium, and he accomplishes that with a vengeance.
The Washington Post reviewer, Ron Charles does a terrific YouTube review. This is how I felt exactly.
You must be asking yourself, why read this crazy book? Well, I asked myself that exact question several times as I was shaking my head but reading on and on. Ron Charles says "Chaon's great skill is his ability to re-create that compulsive sense we have in nightmares that we're just about to figure everything out—if only we tried a little harder, moved a little faster."
Go ahead. Read Ill Will. Freak yourself out!
Dan Chaon's blog with some awesome photos.