Saturday, May 23, 2015


A journalist is not a good novelist


The author made a mistake. She decided her character was herself, hence that the story was autobiographical. That explains the constant shift from the past to the present which can be done since as the author she is at a distance and as the character she is inside, existentially present.

But there is another consequence. I will take one instance page 265-266:

“Now, you’re reading this and doing one of two things: (1) relating to everything I say, in which case I extend my sympathy as you are obviously also suffering from anything from low to medium level depression. You can comfort yourself that you are not severely depressed as, if you were, you would not have the concentration to sit and read this novel. Or, more likely, since apparently only 10 per cent of the population is depressed at one time, (2) you are thinking that I am a depressed misery guts, in which case you will fall into one of two further categories: (i) you’ve been depressed before but because you are happy now you are unable to relate to how I am feeling. It’s like childbirth, where you soon forget the pain of giving birth so completely that you are unable to recall it, or (ii) you’ve never been depressed.”

She can only imagine what the reader is imagining when and if she speaks as the author. She then sounds extremely arrogant trying to analyze the reader’s consciousness and she is missing the most important stance: that of a reader that feels empathy not for the author he does not care for but for the character because that reader may know from experience what it is to be depressed and may even consider the character’s depression is not as severe as the author pretends and as it could have been because that reader has gone one step farther at least and found himself institutionalized.

It is a shame because the story has some very interesting elements.

The sexual harassment case is very fascinating. It concerns women here and in spite of the rather free sexual innuendo going on constantly among office workers (or plain blue collar workers too), it is banned from an employer to an employee. We can wonder why it cannot go down the ladder of management but it is a fact that such language, what’s more gestures are banned from employer or manager to employee. Note here we are only dealing with a male employer and a female employee. The reverse situation is not even hinted at, not to speak of gay or lesbian situations. That’s a shame in a way since there is a gay character who is quite active and important though he is pathetic. The novel seems to imply that kind of segregation or harassment is only from male employer to female employee.

The second interest of this novel is the exploration of the relation among members of broken families. In fact there seems to be nearly only broken families. Divorces, separations, breakups and other forms of splitting partnerships apart are explored in all possible ways. The crucial one is of course that of the divorced mother, Tina, and her two sons Luca and Mario. The relation is so possessive on the mother’s side and so submissive on the sons’ side that the end is nearly surprising if not close to impossible.

The point of view is so feminine that the subtleties of male characters and their psychology are not explored. Even, the gay character is not explored in any real nuances or detail. The main idea is that it is always a question of domination or control, and apart from that nothing but sexual intercourse, as kinky as possible. And failure is always attributed to domination and control from one partner. In fact the only couple that actually gets to some epiphany gets there with such a change in the minds of the two people that it is hardly imaginable. Miracles exist, but in love I doubt it very much.

The novel is well written in journalistic style more than any literary elaboration. It makes it entertaining and easy to read though not more fascinating than sunset over a vast flat plain entirely sown with blond wheat hardly ten days after sowing. From time to time in the following weeks a red poppy may grow on the outskirts and edges of the field.


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