18 February 2008

As sick as I am, I would never be you

I’m nearly finished Submarine by new author Joe Dunthorne and can honestly say that it’s the most enjoyable thing I’ve read in several years. The voice is spot-on, the writing deft and uncomplicated, and my inner cynic has been trip-wired into laughter more times than it would care to admit. I looked at the inside back dust jacket and saw why – the guy is only 26.

Give someone a fresh pair of eyes possibly unclouded by stoic years of dense postmodern theory and they may not come back with the Gobstopper of all literary mastication. But then who really wants to spend a lifetime teasing out meaning from a single text? Dr. Who fans, that’s who. But who else? (James Joyce can go drown in a lake of his own tears, if he hadn't already expired.)

My parents rang up last night to say that they’d been busy - “With visitors,” my father said (“With realtors” my mother clarified) - but that they still cared. “We’re so pleased you two are coming, so pleased. Okay? Bye now!”

Apart from that misplaced postscript, I can’t say that’s been our overall impression of the situation. Even if it was, it’s becoming harder to imagine a better life anywhere other than right here. We are independently, carefully balanced on a self-actualised pinnacle that might as well be on the moon in zero gravity, for all its potential to be replicated any other where or way.

For the first time in my life, I do not feel like things are in the process of falling apart. In fact, things feel remarkably stable. I have a job that is tough but rewarding, a family that is close but not smothering, and friends that like and respect me. London used to frighten me with its indifference and warped architectural memory; now it’s begging to feel not only like home, but like some devastatingly beautiful and true ship that saved my moored and savage life.

I suppose you can guess the Captain.

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