Thursday, January 11, 2007

No End to Abrahams' Story -- or His Talent

Peter Abrahams, one of my favorite writers, has a new hardcover -- Nerve Damage: A Novel -- out soon, and the paperback version of his last terrific novel, End Of Story, in the stores.

Here’s the deal: I’m going to keep on raving about Abrahams until he 1.) writes a bad book; or 2.) gets to be a regular on the best-seller lists where he deserves to be. If thriller-writing was a disease, Abrahams would be its poster boy, and End of Story is a beautifully crafted and astonishingly exciting story.

Ivy Seidel is a writer in trouble: she has an impressive educational background, lots of rejections (the New Yorker’s was kind and handwritten), a job as a waitress. A lucky Hollywood break for her best writing buddy gives her the chance to teach prisoners at upstate New York’s Dannemora Prison, at $100 a visit plus gas money. It’s as far from the New Yorker as Ivy can get in terms of atmosphere, but Abrahams makes you smell the fear and feel all the bad vibes.

At least one of her five pupils appears to have talent, and Ivy is so caught up in his work that she buys into his story of innocence – until life threatens to be much more dangerous than fiction.