Granta 162 – definitive narratives of escape. An enjoyable and intimate collection of memoirs and fiction about grief and our escape from it.
Des Fitzgerald. In his memoir about his brother’s apparent suicide he refers to the French scholar Robert Hertz “a person’s death should be thought of as a collectiveor social event, not simply an individual calamity.” He analyses his own torpor his anger and hatred at what his brother had done to him – put him into a state of mourning, which Freud describes as hard work. He then moves into life and death intermingling as he details the birth of his child causing the loss of the twin. And then the trials and tribulations of toddlers. As parents we can all relate to this.
For the love of losing by Marina Benjamin. I loved this memoir about Marina’s journey through the working world of casino gambling. That sense of dropping your life to discover a new one is , as she says, exhilarating. She brought us into the world – long hours, hard work and getting kicked out of casinos. A lot of losing and play acting. For her it was a profession, to watch individuals get sucked in felt sad and uncomfortable.
Hotel Casanova by Annie Ernaux (translated from Alison L. Strayer). This is a slow burner as she crosses path with a man who she gradually becomes enveloped by whilst experiencing the loss of her mother. Another way of how we cope with grief a la Freud.
Misfortune by Alexis. An odd tale of a six year daughter accidentally fatally shooting her father The story examines how grief and sorrow affected her life up to her mother’s death. The body of the story focuses on her sister giving her a sealed letter from her mother and wanting to know the contents. The twist is how the mother, with a doctor, engineered the father’s death, so the daughter was, after all this time, not guilty of his death. There is much about remembering and how siblings can have contrasting memories and understanding of their parents, and the awkwardness if can cause. I related to this and the pain it gives off.
Many words for heat, many words for hate. Amitava Kumar’s memoir reads like a diary, telling an interesting tale about Delhi, in which he begins with an experiment with an audience about the meaning of heat in the city. His diary reports on the Modi government’s attempts on “to be Indian is to be Hindu.” Well it is way more complex than that – it can also be Muslim. And Hinduism can be broken down with South and Northern Indians.
Equally he worries about how legislation is used to detain activists and journalists not in step with the government. There is much troubled reportage about the behaviour of the government and the ineptitude of Boris Johnson in India.
As a hard of hearing person myself I read “The Public and Private Performance of the deaf body” with personal interest. Raymond Antrobus weaves his own personal story with that of Johnnie Ray. I was inspired by how Johnnie Ray managed to overcome his own hearing difficulties and become famous. Michael Moritz focuses more on the discrimination of homosexuality of the era.
The schedule of loss by Emily LaBarge. This memoir jumped out at me slapping me across my face in how she described an attack on her home. The title refers to the list of stolen items given to the insurance company.