Sunday, September 13, 2015
SPIDER by Patrick McGrath
Patrick McGrath's Spider is a superior psychological thriller, but considered as a 'literary' novel, as a work of narrative art in prose, it's pretty good but not mind-blowing. Formally, it's a monologic and fairly obvious unreliable narrator novel that contains a few genuinely chilling images of psychosis (I found the Battaile-esque descriptions of Spider's anatomical delusions to be especially powerful). It depicts, with creepily convincing success, the first-person consciousness, the twisted inwardness, of the type of psychotic most of us would surely cross the street to avoid. Ralph Fiennes did perhaps his best and riskiest work to date portraying this character in David Cronenberg's adaptation, a film that, far from 'spoiling' the novel, actually adds ironic sharpness to a few early, carefully understated passages. Knowing the story, we notice ironies we would probably have missed on a 'cold' first reading.