What is most impressive about The End of Eddy is that its author turned himself into a man capable of creating such a vivid and honest self-portrait. Telling the truth about growing up gay among bigoted, bullying people requires bravery and brio; shaping that story into a memorable dramatic narrative takes not only nerve but intelligence, skill and a mysterious jolt of je ne sais quoi. ... Louis is situated now in this line of powerfully, almost scarily, honest gay storytellers who need make nothing up, since their lives — especially their lonely childhoods — provide them with material beyond the scope of the imagination.
What distinguishes The End of Eddy from its autofictional antecedents is the urgency with which Louis seeks to separate himself from his previous self, a desire so intense that the novel can be seen as a kind of wake ... Throughout the novel, Louis catalogues the baffling contradictions of the world of his childhood: brutal racism next to friendliness toward the village’s single person of color; his father’s scorn for the bourgeoisie and his hope that Eddy will join their ranks; the villagers’ hatred of government, which they insist must take action against immigrants and sexual minorities ... The abstractions that Louis deploys can flatten out novelistic texture, rendering invisible any details that they can’t accommodate ... Louis knows that the language of social theory, which requires the kind of education the poor are denied, is complicit in the system that it seeks to make visible. His use of that language in The End of Eddy is freighted with an ambivalence that animates the book and gives it a devastating emotional force. To write the novel is at once an act of solidarity and an act of vengeance.
This arresting autobiographical novel pulls no punches; rather, it lands them on the reader as frequently as fists descend on its subject ... So far, so grim. For anyone who thinks that in contemporary Europe the bad old days are far behind us for young people like Eddy, this is a salutary reminder of just how far from the truth that is ... However, the real achievement of the book is not its reportage, but its attitude. It is written entirely without self pity – and, astonishingly, without judgment ... There is no recoil from the facts, but no sentiment either. In the end, the writing-out of this intolerable childhood comes across as courageous, necessary and deeply touching.