The website of UK writer Dan McNeil

COME CLOSER

Sara Gran | 2003
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Reading this nasty little tale, I’m reminded of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, in which the female lead goes mad.

And don’t panic, dear publishers of Come Closer – when I say “nasty little tale”, I mean the tale told is nasty, not the manner in which it’s told. The manner in which it’s told is cool and minimal, and it’s all the more believable for that. You see, when I say “tale”, I mean just that. It’s surely not a novel, I mean novels these days are a bloated 4 million pages, at least. Come Closer runs to a svelte 168. Nice short chapters as well, just to keep borderline neurotics like me on side. That’s one of the many symptoms of incipient insanity, you see, an inability to to focus on one thing for more than a few minutes.

Um, where was I? Oh yes, Come Closer. Well, the plot – such as it is (actually, I hate the obsession with plot. Plot is overrated. Plot is unreal. Since when did life follow a plot? But that’s another story) concerns a female who lives with a male. The female goes mad. Oh dear, I’ve said this already, on line two of this report, er, I mean review. That’s another symptom, a tendency to repeat oneself. Also, an obsession with parenthetical prose (oh yes).

Anyway, the female becomes increasingly insane, and the manner in which her insanity is expounded is very believable. There’s drinking. There’s forgetfulness. There’s leaving dirty clothes around the house. There’s swearing. There’s shoplifting. All out of character stuff. If anybody has ever gone mad, or knows somebody who has, then Come Closer provides a knowing jolt.

Look, I’m not going to fling overblown superlatives at you, like Kathryn Davies does on the rear cover of my review copy (“Come Closer left me so profoundly disturbed, so terrified and sleepless and unable to shake free of its horrible spell…” yeah, yeah.). This kind of puerile stuff insults the intelligence of an intelligent reader.

Come Closer is not exactly original, but it’s (relatively) short, well written and enjoyable. If it were filmed, then the result would be something like Repulsion. Have I said this already?

©Dan McNeil 2003
[This review first appeared in Ink Magazine]