“Persona” is a brutally raw psychological thriller. The back stories and emotions of the character and the story line in which a man who is insane is trying to drive a woman insane by targeting her and her family members. Horn’s damaged; narcissistic and misogynist characters are worthy of Bret Easton Ellis and “The Last Days of Disco” by Wilt Stillman. While some of the narrative is difficult to read, the characters are no less interesting.
Horn’s strength is in his character development. The main character is embodied in several characters in the novel though that’s not immediately evident. Each character builds a layer on his story line with the unifying factor that he was a boy tortured by his mother who witnessed his father kill her. He is desperately romantic and invested in the area of being driven by fate. Fate led him to Jen; they were meant to be. Interestingly, Horn ties this idea of lack of control in with his childhood where he had no protection against the beatings issued by his mother. He doesn’t love Stacey but he’s not the one to choose who he loves so he’s invested in the idea of being in love with her. He equates being debased with being in love in the most interesting way. His psychology is riveting.
As I mentioned, “Persona” is quite a raw work. There’s a lot of graphic sex. This is not an erotica novel; the sexual activity is such that serves a point to the story line. The language is quite crass. I cannot tell you how many times a certain word thought to be the worst thing you can say to a woman is used. That said, it’s not without purpose. You would not believe the character and his actions were he talking about bunnies and rainbows. “Persona” is a very strong and confident piece well aware of its place in alt literature.
“Persona” was a fabulous read. Pick it up when available and let me know if you think its as good as I did.
When the author describes this novel in its title as a 'disturbing psychological thriller' he really is not kidding. If you do not like graphic sex and foul language in the books you read, this novel is not for you.
This novel is gritty, disturbing, confronting and at times confusing (until it comes together part way through) but the one thing it is not is ever, ever boring. The book is unlike anything I have ever read before. It has more layers, digs deeper into the human psyche, and is far more involved than any other psychological thriller I have come across previously. At the end I was still unsure whether or not I actually enjoyed the book but I was certainly shaken, stirred, and left convinced that the author must be some sort of genius (possibly an evil one!) who is entirely too familiar with the psychology of psychopathy to be entirely comfortable.
After all that, my verdict is - worth the read.