Come Closer

Come Closer

by Sara Gran

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I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation minute. The book is Come Closer by Sara Gran.

I read a book a week, give or take, and for the most part, all the books I make it all the way through are at least okay. I read a lot of the first three chapters of books that never make it on the air, by the way — I just consider it taking one for the team.

There’s an element of panning for gold in reviewing books, and sometimes I feel like the luckiest person in the world because I get to read something really exciting, and those are the cases where I can’t stop talking about it. That was the case with one of the best books I’ve read this year, Sara Gran’s Come Closer. The fact that Sara turned out to be a lovely person in addition to being such a fine writer was just a bonus.

Come Closer is a short novel, without a wasted word. More than anything it reminded me of a Hitchcock film — cool, detached, and blood-curdling. The story is narrated by anywoman Amanda, who has on the surface a nice normal life with a nice normal husband. Amanda may be a little tightly wound but she certainly seems like nothing in particular is wrong. But it’s Amanda’s repression that makes her a natural target for evil. Things start to fall disastrously apart practically in the first sentence. Amanda comes to realize she’s under attack and in danger of being possessed by a demon — maybe the imaginary friend of her childhood. That the friend was a well-loved companion to a lonely young girl makes Amanda’s confusion even greater. As far as the demon is concerned, well, she just wants to get out a bit, and she’s got a very specific idea of what she likes to do for fun.

The thing that made me feel cold was not the demon’s nasty behavior as much as Amanda’s loss of ability to tell what was real. In other words, she starts listening to the advice of the voices in her head. The voices are seductive — we get the first idea that Amanda may be under some sort of attack when she starts smoking again — indoors! It’s only a short leap from lighting up in her living room to jabbing her husband with the lit end. Small steps, when you’re going crazy.

Think about it, though. If you started hearing voices, would you assume you were insane? What if the voices were very reasonable and told you that you were the only one who wasn’t crazy? What if they told you that your husband was against you? And your so-called friends? And the doctors, they’re all in on it too. Would you do what they told you if maybe in your heart you kind of wanted to? At what point are they no longer voices in your head, but just your head? And how do you tell the difference between crazy and evil?

Seriously, this book made me want to carry Holy Water around in my purse and I’m Jewish.

I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is Come Closer by Sara Gran.

You know I love the horror, and this slim, ice cold volume is a whole new kind of scary. I read it on one long night and made the cats sleep on the bed with me so the demons wouldn’t get me. Amanda is a normal, married woman with a good job and a nice place to live, but things start falling apart on page one. Amanda’s imaginary friend, long forgotten in childhood, may not be so imaginary, and is certainly no friend. Or is Amanda losing her mind? The cool and detached narrator of Come Closer keeps the hysterical edge out of her voice as things get worse and the blood starts to flow, and she struggles to understand what is happening to her. Can she stop it? Does she even really want to? And most of all, what does the demon want? That you’ll have to read for yourself, and that was what I found to be the scariest part of all. Come Closer by Sara Gran. I’m Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.

I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The books is Come Closer by Sara Gran.

This is a short novel, but may be the scariest thing I’ve read in ages. It reminded me a bit of Rosemary’s Baby, a normal woman confronted by horrible things that make no sense — but in this case, it’s all in her head. But what’s in her head? Is it the demon companion from childhood? Or is Amanda losing her mind? And ultimately, when it’s happening to you, how can you tell the difference? She consults psychics and doctors, trusts no one, listens only to the voices in her head, until the voice in her head is also the one that gets to speak and make decisions. In Come Closer, the narrator is trapped inside her body, observing her descent into increasingly depraved behavior, and she can tell only the reader that she can’t get out. As far as the world knows, it’s just another crazy woman. As Amanda says, what we think is impossible happens all the time. And ask yourself, what would you do if things stopped making sense? Come Closer by Sara Gran. I’m Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.

I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is Come Closer by Sara Gran.

Amanda, the narrator, has a pretty nice life. So nice, in fact, that she attracts the attention of a demon, maybe the imaginary friend of her lonely childhood. Whatever it is, it wants Amanda’s life. And it moves in, and it takes over, until Amanda can only watch her life fall apart under someone else’s command. Of course, it could be that Amanda is not possessed, but schizophrenic, mentally ill. And the question that Come Closer forces you to ask is, would you, as the one being mentally attacked, be able to tell the difference? The book is so insidious that I wanted to come up with some sort of psychic assault contingency plan. Now, I know perfectly well that no one is actually possessed by demons. Whether the demon is an entity or a diseased part of her brain, it very much did what it came to do.  And the way Amanda winds up at the end of this chilling book, it makes no difference at all.  Come Closer by Sara Gran. I’m Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.

Sara Gran lives in New Orleans, and recommends these non profit organizations:

The Tipitina’s Foundation, which is associated with the world famous club, helps local musicians get instruments, get shows, and get their lives back together:

New Orleans has its own esoteric art forms: Mardi Gras Indians, brass bands, second line parades, jazz funerals. The Backstreet Museum helps to preserve these traditions, and make them accessible to the wider public:

From their website: “Ashé Cultural Arts Center is an effort to combine the intentions of community development, economic development with the awesome creative forces of community, culture and art to revive and reclaim a historically significant corridor of New Orleans’ Central City community, Oretha Castle-Haley Boulevard, formerly known as Dryades Street.”  Central City is, sadly, the site of many of the recent murders in New Orleans. Places like Ashé really make a difference.  They also host Side by Side, an organization that’s helping to bring artists and culture-bearers back from wherever they got stranded after the evacuation — yes, there are plenty of people still trying to come home:

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