The Monthly : 2018-12-01

FRONT PAGE : 78 : 78


76 on Adam Rivett Chloe Hooper’s ‘The Arsonist’ Fair judgement without surrender of Chloe Hooper’s writing. The lovers and mistresses who populate her novels operate under premises and promises that shift on them in a second. To the prosecuted figures at the centre of her nonfiction, Hooper extends a nervous sympathy, inviting the reader to question culpabilit­y while never denying the scale of the crimes. The challenge across all her work is this: how to perceive truth and exercise fair judgement without surrenderi­ng to inflexibil­ity and simplicity. While her concerns have remained constant, the approach has shifted. Consider two moments in her work – one old, one new – both arriving late in their respective book. Uncertaint­y sits at the heart Hooper’s first novel, published in 2002, the narrator, Kate, strikes a sceptical note while pondering the merit of a true crime potboiler written by her lover’s wife, Veronica. She is repelled by the breathless prose expended upon what is, in the end, mere equivocati­on: A Child’s Book of True Crime, In “Perhaps within all of us,” Veronica confessed, “there is an island of the night, and on that island a castaway capable of deeds we’d rather not acknowledg­e.” arts & letters — books © Paul Crock / Getty Images

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