Come Closer by Sara Gran

When this book came out in 2003, I had it on my to-read list. Unfortunately, the title was only available as a one-week loan, and I learned my lesson with that one a few years ago, trying to read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell in a week. That didn’t happen. I needn’t have worried with Come Closer; I finished the book in two days.

Come Closer follows Amanda, an upwardly mobile New Yorker, who slowly is taken over by a demon entity. Her first hint that something is off happens when she hears unexplainable noise in her apartment. I like how benign this demon possession starts. In New York, it seems, there is always an unexplainable noise. My sister built a shelf underneath our kitchen window so we have a ledge to put our coffee cups on as we survey the industrial landscape that serves as our backyard. This last week in the evening while sitting nearby I heard an unexplainable clatter and both the shelf and the radiator vibrated with motion. I thought at first it was one of the earth tremors that happen occasionally in New York, but after a couple more episodes of this, I figured out that it was the neighbors next door climbing up and down the fire escape into their apartment window.

It would seem most New Yorkers are ripe for demon possession if unexplainable noises are the hallmark of a demon rapping on your door. After that, the maddeningly normal Amanda becomes more spontaneous, shoplifting lipstick and buying clothes and shoes that she normally wouldn’t pick up in a million years. She comes to resent her boring, routine-oriented husband Ed, and they begin to fight–something that has not happened before in their marriage.

At the same time, Amanda is looking better, sexier, but she starts to lose great chunks of time that she cannot account for. I think my favorite scene–I guess I can’t call it a scene since the situation is never fully spelled out–occurs after a New York newsstand vendor is unspeakably rude to Amanda. Who has not wanted to dispatch a surly MTA worker at one time or another? In Amanda’s case, the demon allows Amanda to act on her impulses, and that’s the gist of Come Closer: What if a woman is allowed to act on her impulses (not beaten down by marriage, career, or children) and could blame it on a demon?

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