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Monday, October 11, 2010

Insignificant Others

After much distraction, I've finally finished reading the new book by Stephen McCauley. I have a feeling that this book may have been difficult to write for him, as it is more difficult to get into for me. The characters seem somewhat removed from the author's own experience and sympathies, thus making it difficult for me to sympathize with the characters either.

Yet in the end the book still came out fairly satisfying and, might I say, helpful. All of his novels are on some level about the same thing: to make a change in one's life for the better, to take a step toward a new direction that is more honest with oneself, or, like the line in Company, "to want something, to want something."

Richard is a 50-ish psychologist-turned-human resource manager in the corporate world. He is lethargic about his job and love life. Rather than getting to the heart of the problems, it is less painful and overwhelming to relegate his attention toward insignificant distractions: an extracurricular affair with a married man, office politics, obsessive exercise ...

Unlike his previous novels, the flaws in these characters are more hardened and less vulnerable (ie, lovable and sympathetic). Again I am reminded of how earnestly people set traps for themselves in life. Yet there is no right answer. It is quite silly but I am continually shocked by how my instinct has still not fully accepted the lack of a right answer for anyone in life. I accept it intellectually, but my emotional brain is still not used to the universal truth. Somewhere in all this there is a story waiting to be told.


CAVA said...

I was shocked by the first quarter of The Fry Chronicles. The amount of self loathing, even after so many years of a successful career, is alarming. It's bitter/sweet and moving to see how he gradually comes to terms with himself, but it is obvious that he's not completely at ease yet. Fascinating read anyhow.

Jun said...

可见事业成功本身并不能解决思想问题呀。环顾四周,a little therapy would do a lot of people some good,可是基本上所有的人都宁可自己憋着,living in quiet desperation 或者拿旁人出气。

说得我有点想看 The Fry Chronicles,不知道美国有无出版,毕竟他在美国不算很红,知名度不高。

CAVA said...

Amazon.com有Kindle下载 :-)

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