March 15, 2017
Chaon is one of America’s best and most dependable writers, and in the end, “Ill Will” is a ruthlessly “realistic” piece of fiction about the unrealistic beliefs people entertain about their world. Reminiscent of the darkest psychological thrillers, such as George Sluizer’s film “The Vanishing” or the convoluted, unreliably narrated novels “The Horned Man” by James Lasdun and “Spider” by Patrick McGrath, it is ultimately a wider, less personality-bound story than any of those.
The problem of our world, Chaon seems to argue, is not simply that individuals tell themselves stories they shouldn’t believe, but rather that everyone is constantly telling themselves (and everybody else) unbelievable stories all the time. And amid the looping freeway interchanges of storytelling, the exit signs are often impossible to find.