Book Review: I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Book Review: I'm Thinking of Ending Things
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Binnie Klein

No, don’t worry, I don’t mean me. I’m not thinking of ending things. Although amidst an unrelenting tsunami of madness from the White House, a persistent trapped feeling (how long till 45 is out? How long? Some say 4 years, some say a few months), and a metallic taste in my mouth as daily I’m forced to swallow a mendacity-and-baloney sandwich, I’ve occasionally gazed longingly at the dark envelope of a lake I drive by daily—at the sweet escape a sudden plunge would promise.

But no, don’t worry. I wanna see how this all plays out. And I’ve survived long enough to know that, as Heraclitus famously said, or is famously quoted as saying, “the only thing permanent is change.” Or was it Dave Chappelle?

I’m Thinking of Ending things is a novel by Ian Reid that I can’t say very much about—to say too much would be to risk ruining the full experience for you.

If you get the book, you can even just ignore the inside flap and back cover.

Okay, you can look at the author photo. He’s got a cute hat on.

I thought at first the title referred to someone considering suicide.

To entice you I see that I may have to remove one or two veils. For instance, it’s a road-trip novel. A woman is accompanying her new boyfriend on a trip to visit his parents. It’s their first trip together. I felt like I’ve been inside their conversations—ones where you’re getting to know someone, and you’re weighing whether you’re finding them irresistible and compelling, or off-putting, someone you should leave and leave immediately.

The woman has some strange stuff going on that she doesn’t tell the man about.

I’m not sure when my tension grew and built so intensely, but I had an experience reading this book that usually occurs when I’m watching a scary film. I shifted in my seat as I read more hurriedly. I couldn’t imagine where it was all going. I was antsy, twitchy, magnetized by a force outside myself.

A funny thing—for the first 20 pages or so I was convinced the narrator was male. I don’t think that was intentional. But it becomes relevant. Eventually.

Oh dear, have I said too much?

The visit with the family is dazzlingly weird.

I can only speak in vague terms.

Because something begins to shift. Almost imperceptibly at first. And then shift some more. There is a skillful authorial maneuver. You wonder how it is even possible.

I’m still not….entirely sure…what eventually happened…or began to happen, but I did see it through, and I went back to the beginning after I finished the book. I could have almost read it again immediately, all of it.

If you’re ancient, like me, you might remember a technique of movie-making and publicity from the 1950s and ‘60s which was particularly effective for horror films: big bold lettering on the screen would warn ‘DON’T REVEAL THE ENDING!’

It’s like that.

I adore good writers, and I read like a hungry hippo. I need to have a taut psychological thriller going that’s always available on my bedside table. I read strange tomes about hawks and insects. I read books about de-cluttering and hygge, the Danish art of coziness. I read brave, raw memoirs.

And if I got you to consider picking up Ian Reid’s book (I don’t know him! I swear!), let me know, and I’ll sing the praises of many others authors and books. I try to celebrate them on my radio show, too (A Miniature World, WPKN, Thursdays, 10 am until Noon).

I want to embrace all you authors, especially these days, and smoosh you with wet sloppy kisses—for providing distraction, comfort, and yes, even terror.... I don’t think you can possibly know how important your work is.

I love you.

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