Sunday, 27 October 2013
This early phase of the book is deeply annoying, with Harold a typical late 20th century literary anti-hero, aimless, useless, and totally disassociated from his life or any feelings about it. Try this: "Something is missing. I feel like I've fallen into a space between spaces, like I don't really exist - I'm always out of context. Searching for clarity, I visit my mother" I mean honestly. And no points for guessing that his relationship with his mother is empty and meaningless.
He gets involved with the internet in some unhealthy ways, and we learn that AM Holmes is very likely over 50. Here is her old lady analysis of the internet : "There is a world out there, so new, so random, and disassociated that it puts us all in danger. We talk online, we 'friend' each other when we don't know who we are really talking to - we fuck strangers. We mistake almost anything for a relationship, a community of sorts, and yet, when we are without our familiar, in our communiaties, we are clueless, we short-circuit and immediately dive back into the digitized version . . ." In fact, let's google her age right now.
Yup. She's 51. No surprises there.
However, the story picks up after Harold starts looking after the kids. He develops a sort of strange family made up of various misfits who live in his brother's community, and the story becomes something of a meditation on finding family where ever you are. There's a rather embarrassing trip to South Africa where Harold decides that all the white people are racist, whereas his black waiter is 'a magical experience'(!?!) but this does not detract from the general improvement to the novel which occurs in the last half, making a rather sweet and - thank god - plot driven conclusion to what could have been a dire book.