Tony & Susan
by Austin Wright
The boring part first. Tony & Susan has been adapted for cinema (as Nocturnal Animals ) by Tom Ford, the fashion-designer-turned-film-director who made Christopher Isherwood’s melancholy late masterpiece, A Single Man, into a stylishly hollow film. The interesting part is Tony & Susan itself is by Austin Wright, who died in 2003. A fiction about reading fiction, it is a revenge novel in a literary and very nearly literal sense. The titular Susan receives a book (called Nocturnal Animals) written by her ex-husband, Edward Sheffield. “What does that old bastard have to say for himself?” Quite a lot, as it turns out. Nocturnal Animals is a menacing thriller, beginning with a noirish nightmare about a maths professor who becomes meekly complicit in a car accident, a kidnapping and possibly a murder. Wright’s brilliant trick is to parallel Edward’s writing with Susan’s reading. Novels may not change the world, but they can blow an individual mind. Here is one of them.