He Wants by Alison Moore: reviewed

This short novel, written by the author of ‘The Lighthouse’, is certainly an interesting piece of work. The text makes ordinary people extraordinary and takes the reader on a strange journey. There are perhaps too many surprises in the plot, but otherwise the narrative successfully casts a troubling shadow on the way people strive for meaning in modern life.

Perhaps ‘The Lighthouse’ has gathered more praise than ‘He Wants’, but both stories make for quite compelling reading. The author has a keen eye for masculine vulnerability and a remarkable way with words. Her neat prose is readable without ever being dull.

When it comes to influences, D.H. Lawrence is the most blatant one as several quotations attest. Yet the writer is more concise than her predecessor and is less political. Given the problematic nature of the political views of Lawrence, this gap is a healthy one. Perhaps the last words should be reserved for Moore:

“He wonders whether his uncle Ted, if he saw the handwriting on the front of the envelope, would recognise the shade of the ink, the thickness of the line, the characteristics of his old pen, and he thinks, then, of a Stephen King novel that Edie once read, in which a man is bludgeoned to death with his own severed arm.”

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