A more subtle version of the unreliable narrator can be found in Helen Dunmore's Talking to the Dead, where the reader only starts to doubt the narrative after several chapters, by which time we are so wedded to it that it becomes an exercise in detection to separate the strands of what we are being told and what is not being said. It then becomes almost a competitive sport, as the reader and narrator race to the finish, each with their own piece of the puzzle that will - together - solve the mystery at the heart of the story.
Dunmore talks of this bond between the author and reader as a ‘very deep form of play’. She likens the reader response to that of a person watching a film, viewpoints changing as the camera draws back or closes in. ‘Language has a very powerful sound texture’ she says, enabling the author to capitalise on people’s familiarity with the visual medium of film.
So, do you have favourite examples of unreliable narrators? My list would have to include Humbert Humbert from Lolita. Please recommend your favourites, as I would love to read more of these sorts of stories.