A bit of a book mini-review here. I breezed through Susannah Moore's shortish novel In the Cut over the past few days. The ending astounded and disturbed me so deeply I had to check out what Amazon readers thought of it, and I wasn't surprised at the results. Almost as many people loved the book as hated it. When you seen that phenomenon you know immediately, either it's a case of opinion feeding off opinion (people wanting very badly to contradict each other), or what you actually have is a controversial book, and for some it works and for others it simply doesn't.
For me, it works. I appreciate Moore's minimalist style. That's much more difficult to bring off than it seems like it should be. You'd think, less words is less work... But oh, no. It's the opposite. Less words means more meaning packed into every word, thus every word counts almost double. You can't have superfluous writing, or padded prose, in minimalism. Yeah, that's obvious, but what some writers don't seem to get is there can simply be no fat in this writing style. Don't waste words on things that are obvious, don't tell us things we don't need to know. Get down to the bone, and stay there, 'til the story's done.
Susannah Moore does that. She also writes about extreme violence, and about a female character who's very sure of herself and her sexuality. That's incredibly threatening to a lot of people, hence the Amazon reviews. The violence upset some, but it was the sexuality that got the biggest share of the verbal mud-slinging.
The book itself is finely written. It's the subject matter that's disturbing, but it's also true you know that going into the book, assuming you read the blurbs. It seems to me the negative reviews come from those who object to the content. Where the negative reviews fail is in their inability to separate subject matter from quality of writing.
I'll read more by Susannah Moore. She's a tremendously skilled writer. Did she make me squirm a bit? Yes, but therein lies her power.