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The Girl Next Door de Jack Ketchum
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The Girl Next Door (original: 1989; edição: 2015)

de Jack Ketchum (Autor)

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
1,2316512,045 (4.01)61
Suburbia. Shady, tree-lined streets, well-tended lawns, and cozy homes. A nice, quiet place to grow up. Unless you are teenage Meg or her crippled sister, Susan. On a dead-end street, in the dark, damp basement of the Chandler house, Meg and Susan are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons and finally the entire neighborhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make...… (mais)
Membro:dgovert81
Título:The Girl Next Door
Autores:Jack Ketchum (Autor)
Informação:47North (2015), 320 pages
Coleções:Horror, Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:
Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

Detalhes da Obra

The Girl Next Door de Jack Ketchum (1989)

  1. 10
    The Collector de John Fowles (MattMc3)
  2. 00
    Old Flames de Jack Ketchum (MattMc3)
    MattMc3: Specifically, the novella "Right to Life" in the book "Old Flames"
  3. 00
    Die for Me: The Terrifying True Story of the Charles Ng & Leonard Lake Torture Murders de Don Lasseter (MattMc3)
    MattMc3: True-life crime inspired by the book "The Collector" by John Fowles
  4. 01
    Requiem for a Dream de Hubert Selby Jr. (Waldheri)
    Waldheri: Though Requiem for a Dream is about drugs and The Girl Next Door about abuse, the depressing, bleak and hopeless atmosphere is similar in both books.
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In the basement, with Ruth, I began to learn that anger, hate, fear and loneliness are all one button awaiting the touch of just a single finger to set them blazing toward destruction.

And I learned that they can taste like winning.


After Jack Ketchum (who's real name is Dallas Mayr) died, a few short weeks ago, I was determined to revisit some of his work. I also suggested it to a friend of mine, who'd said she'd specifically avoided the novel up to now. Unfortunately, I pushed her to read the book, because it truly is the single most important book Ketchum ever wrote. She stopped on page 192, saying she couldn't go on, and I get it.

This is only the second time I've read this book, and it'll likely be the last. This is not a book that leaves you glad that you read it. It's not a book you read for entertainment.

In his introduction to Jack Ketchum's last published collection of short stories, Gorilla In My Room, Edward Lee tells this story:

One time Ketchum and I were sitting in a convention bar, in between panels, readings, etc., and I was yammering over my beer about some book I'd read that was flawed from a "writerly" standpoint but I found that I enjoyed it anyway. Then I said something like, "It seems to me that if a novel possesses flawed components but it's still entertaining, then it's done its job. An iffy plot doesn't matter, shitty characters don't matter, crummy dialogue doesn't matter, as long as some other element of that book entertains the readership."

Ketchum replied rather perfunctorily, "Bullshit. I don't want to entertain readers, I want to provoke them. I want to make them think. Think about what's really going on out there, to consider that it's not all tiptoeing through the tulips, to recognize that some really awful shit could be awaiting them around the next corner. Bad, bad shit. Real horror that gets its hands on real people every damn day, when they least expect it. If all my books do is entertain, then they've failed. For a book to be good, it needs to perform, and it performs by provoking the reader into thinking, and to come away from that thinking with something useful."


Nowhere was Ketchum more successful with that than with this novel. This is a masterclass in how to provoke a reader. It's an ugly book about an ugly subject.

But Jack tackles it perfectly. He starts talking about pain. But there's pain, and then there's pain, and Ketchum ultimately delivers the pain. But, just as the plot slowly progresses and sucks you in, so do the lines that Ketchum crosses.

Read the first quarter of this novel. You could easily believe you're in one of Stephen King's masterful coming of age stories. It, perhaps. But he turns the screws so slowly at the beginning, giving a glimpse of what could have been, the view from the top of a glorious Ferris wheel ride, before plunging the reader back down to that world where some really awful shit awaits the characters—and the reader—around the next corner.

Truly horrible things happen in this novel, and I am the first to disavow gratuitous violence and torture in a book or movie. But it's never gratuitous here. Ketchum grabs the sides of your head and demands that you watch, not because he wants to gross you out, or titillate you. He wants you to watch and be reviled by it, to be sickened by it.

Because, at least for me, he shows how any aggressor slowly, yet carefully dehumanizes their victim, whether through mental or physical abuse, violence or torture. It's a terrible thing, the most reviling thing one human can do to another, yet we do it all the time, every day. And sometimes we just shake our head, turn away and mutter, "that's too bad." And sometimes...sometimes...our anger, our hate, our fear, and our loneliness, when turned upon another, can taste like winning.

Ketchum makes you feel shame for that.

We are a world of casual violence. We choose guns over children. We watch murders while eating popcorn. We protect rapists and blame the victims. We send people to jail for longer sentences when they sell drugs than when they take a life.

We are a broken world. But we mostly ignore it.

In this novel, for a brief time, Ketchum does not let you turn away from that.

I cannot stress how important this novel is, nor the impact it's had on my own writing. This is a horror novel, but not because of any vampires or supernatural presence. The monsters here are completely human. They are you and me.

( )
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
brb scheduling my vasectomy ( )
  schpingle | Apr 25, 2021 |
I read this book as part of a group read; and it pretty much killed any interest I might have for participating in any further group reads.

This was the most depressing book I have ever read. It didn't scare me and it was disturbing in a bad way. In fact, it sort of made me wish I could find a couple of the characters from the book so I could bury a hatchet in their faces.

From here on out I am going to be far more selective when choosing a horror genre book. I don't want to read books where all the horror comes from living, breathing human beings......if I had any interest in such atrocities I would watch the news; plenty of real life horror there....at no additional cost.

I know some readers are dedicated to the human monster and the evil that they do; these readers claim that there is nothing more frightening than that which is real.

I disagree. We all react to fear differently.....either flight or fight. Violence from another human being doesn't scare me, it makes me mad; so a book like this pisses me off way more than it frightens me.

What frightens me? The unexplained, the unknown, that thing or feeling that can't be defined but poses a threat. So, basically nothing in this book frightens me.

This book aggravated my already bad case of misanthropy. Want to know something scary? If I had a virus in a sealed jar that would cause worldwide infertility in humans, basically putting a one hundred year expiration date on the human race....... I would break that sucker open in a heartbeat.

Maybe evolution will get things right the next time around, skip the primates and go straight for the canines or equines as the dominant race. ( )
1 vote Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
Yes I gave this book five stars, no I did not favorite it. My thought process for this though was for me, a favorite means that I plan on reading this book again and again and will recommend it to others. There is no chance in hell (excuse my language) I am reading this book twice in my life.

And I have already told a friend who asked how was it, that if she wanted to feel really depressed about human beings in general she should give it a whirl. I referred her to the real life story that Ketchum used as a basis for this story. She read that and said NOPE. So there you go. You are 100 percent warned by me as a reader that you should hard pass this book if you can't stomach thoughts of children being abused. Heck if you don't just want to read about anyone being abused just skip it. I wouldn't even call this thing horror. I feel like Ketchum just invented another genre out of this book, maybe call it "too horrible to think upon for long?"

Told in the first person, we have David a man now in his I would think late 30s and early 40s. David begins the story by pretty much criticizing how his ex wives thought about pain. He sits there and judges them about how they have no idea what pain really is. He think flashes back to Meg, a 14 year old girl that used to live next door to him when he was 12. Told in haunting flashbacks we have David remembering his last summer before I would think he would agree everything around him went to shit.

Taking place in the 1950s, we have David living the typical suburban dream. He has parents, he has neighborhood friends, and for the most part all of the kids around him get along. But beneath the typical suburban neighborhood there is something wicked and evil brewing. It all comes to a head one summer when Meg and her sister Susan go to live with Ruth (their aunt) after a car accident left both girls orphaned. David is a bit chagrined by this because we find that Ruth's home with her three sons (Willie, Donny, and Ralphie) isn't what he would think of as a good house. It's a "fun" house where anything goes and the boys are allowed to do pretty much anything they want. And Ruth who is an adult who should know better, wants to be seen as the fun mom, the mom that let's the boys be boys and who despises the neighborhood girls for the most part.

When David first meets Meg you can feel his sense of wonder of her and his puppy love turning into a crush. Meg is 14, pretty with long red hair and green eyes. And she sees a lot of what is going on in the home of Ruth and knows it's wrong and feels it's wrong. What makes you sad as a reader, is that Meg who it seems was raised by a loving mother and father can't understand a world in which an adult can do things that her aunt Ruth is doing. A lot of the book is just reading about how David and the other boys in the neighborhood were going down a long road that was going to lead them to just look the other way and/or participate in what Ruth starts to do to Meg and Susan. And you will feel repelled by David during parts of this story because part of him is happy to see Meg hurt because though he doesn't want to say it, he hopes that maybe Meg will be happy to thank him for the little kindness he does for her. Ugh.

Ketchum in his writing manages to get at the mindsets of I think every neighborhood boy and girl in the story. And even though we as readers don't spend much time with the adults in this book besides Ruth, you can see how they in their own way were just as complicit with what goes on because they had their own blinders on as well.

So to start off, this book is based on a true crime. And I do like true crime books. Two years ago I started to read Ann Rule, but got busy with other genres and haven't gone back to her books. But I think in Ann Rule's true crime books you as a reader are able to separate yourself from what is going on because for the most part, true crime books I don't think or at least it's been my experience are not written in the first person. Reading the afterword by Ketchum you find out that he deliberately writes this in the first person. He wants the reader to be in the story, to feel trapped, to feel like David feels (and boy do you) and doing that you feel repulsed, you feel nauseous, you want to end the book as fast as you can. I can honestly say that I have never read a book this fast before in my life. The details of the abuse that David witnesses over time to the point in time where David refuses to tell you what happened to Meg because it was just that bad will make your stomach clench.

The flow of the book starts off slow. We have Ketchum setting up the neighborhood dynamics in such a way in order for you as a reader to maybe sort of understand why something like this could have happened, and why a good man (or in this case a good 12 year old boy) kept his mouth shut for as long as he did about what was going on. And why others who saw what was going on didn't say a word either.

The setting of a suburban town that could be anyplace in the United States felt ominous. As a little kid, I loved the small town I grew up in and felt just as safe at one of my friend's homes as I did in my own. It would never have occurred to childhood me that something bad could happen to me or to my friends in one of these neat little houses with a big porch and open backyards.

The ending was gut wrenching. I think it was really about David asking himself if he was really still okay after everything that happened (I am going to guess no) and what has happened to all of the other kids in the neighborhood who stood by and said nothing as Meg and Susan were abused. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Before reading this book, you need to prepare yourself.
Yes, it's going to be disturbing.
Yes, it's going to turn your stomach to knots.
Yes, it's going to make you very, very angry.

I won't go into the plot since several reviews and the book description already do that. I will say that to me, this book reveals the ugliest possible sides of human behavior, the worst being when good people do NOTHING to help.
Even the author is disgusted by what happened, according to his note at the back of the book. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! ( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
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Suburbia. Shady, tree-lined streets, well-tended lawns, and cozy homes. A nice, quiet place to grow up. Unless you are teenage Meg or her crippled sister, Susan. On a dead-end street, in the dark, damp basement of the Chandler house, Meg and Susan are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons and finally the entire neighborhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make...

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813 — Literature English (North America) American fiction

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