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The End of Alice


The End of Alice sneaks us in the back doors of our upright suburban neighborhoods to reveal the impulses that even in our frank, outspoken times we don't talk about. This is a tale told by a pedophile in his twenty-third year in a maximum security prison. He is intelligent; he is witty; he is profoundly dangerous. Beyond the reality of his stark cell and the violent perversion of the other inmates lies his imagination, which he turns to his past, to an "accident" with a little girl named Alice, and now to the erotic life of a nineteen-year-old suburban co-ed who draws him into a flirtatious epistolary exchange. At home on summer break from college, she writes to the prisoner about her taste for young boys, her lust for one twelve-year-old in particular.

She is inspired by the convict's crimes; he is excited by her peculiar obsession. Into the veneer of middle-class convention—the tennis lessons, baby-sitting, and family dinners—she casts her line for the boy. He bites. As her reports of their strange affair progress, the prisoner's memory unravels, revealing the appalling circumstances of his captivity, his deadly and lingering infatuation with Alice. The intertwined fixations of these unlikely correspondents give The End of Alice its haunting, unsettling power. A.M. Homes, whom The New York Times Book Review calls "exhilaratingly perverse," lures us into the lives of characters simultaneously repellent and seductive.


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