13th November 2020
I stayed up till 3:30am last night feverishly reading the last 200 pages of Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend, following the trials and Tribulation of twelve year old sleuth Harriet Cleve Dufresnes. She’s intent on finding the culprit behind her brother’s murder -a little boy found hanged from a tree. Beautifully garrulous throughout, Tartt is a former Pulitzer winner, and goes to great lengths to portray a Deep South simmering with faded elegance and painful, ongoing history in a 1960s summer of growing the fuck up.
To say wish fulfilment is never scored is quite the understatement, one never sees those wrongs righted, those fallen by the wayside resurrected, or justice for the utter cunts that deal the hands, with a two-faced society complicit. And one never does work out who the perpetrators really are after 700 fuckery pages. But yeah, it’s all about the duplicity of a community -the gossip and intrigue, the love and humanity, the divisions and markers, interspersed with Tartt’s own hints and dead-end distractions. These are devices designed to confuse and allude (such as a large, foreign hat placed on a bed, that’s gotten the net alive with finger pointing at those described as bulbous-headed). It invites the reader to suspect characters exactly as the stricken community does, going about its shitty business in a charade of social niceties and hidden daggers that change lives.
Thus we hypothesize and suspect, employing our in-built prejudices to outline one from another. Was it the disgruntled housekeeper? The over-charming boyfriend? The absent father? Cleverly done -Tartt has gotten us to betray our own biases in pointing the finger, the very same ones that cause such ruckus within the community. But the point is, like life, we will never really know what lies beneath every complex mask and life event. There is no certified killer -to reveal that person would undermine the point of the tale despite betraying the premise.
It very much reminds me of the futility and frustration of life, that isn’t a Hollywood re-telling. Translate our lives onto screen and they’d employ a much better looking actor, atmospheric strings (possible a lone piano) to our saddest moments with a blue filter, confetti, whooping, possibly clapping passersby at our happiest, sun-drenched piques. After finding The Meaning it will end tidily on a high note, you walking a hilly street with a view and newfound bounce, before the camera pans to a suitably epic panorama.
Last night I dreamt about the time my uncle (not really an uncle but a family friend) was deported suddenly, my hero gone in a day. He was young, a student, handsome, sweet and visiting only every so often that I’d spend days in thrall, annoying highly no doubt with tickling and stories, and him being the first person to read one of mine. In retrospect a father figure since Dad was sick and sitting in the armchair all day. Never really thought much about it over the years except that I kept a hair of his in a small brass turtle (weird) and that I chased the taxi down the street and he put his hand on the glass (sad). All before it went fast downhill and life and grief and spots and rehab came on full blast. Saw him briefly again in Malaysia when I was 15 and we’d both changed, and ignored him for the most part out of shyness, as he chatted in the other room. Later the family lost contact, he moved to Mauritius last we heard.
In the dream I acknowledged it as one of my greatest losses, despite having far, FAR worse happen and not ever really thinking much about it since. Woke up ‘crying’ (the kind where you’ve been streaming hot tears for hours but then wake to find your eyes dry and face scrunched). It was an undeniably sad instance, but not that bad in retrospect nor memory. Perhaps a marker between more innocent times. It’s weird how the subconscious comes roaring back after so long – I mean seriously has it been playing hide and seek for 30 years? Festering in some Freudian sock drawer behind the empty trajectories of modern life, from the new realities after childhood?
Ko Liang, if you’re out there, leave a note.
Life just isn’t tidy, paced out or packed with meaning. Nor with fulfilment, justice or orchestras. No distinct beginning, middle and end, despite plenty of annoying ad breaks. It just is, the trick is to surf it or be a fucking mermaid (though the plodding, entirely unmythical manatee might be a better, albeit unprettier role model).
Quid pro quo Clarice: did you know manatees -aka sea cows -are so chill they’ve become abnormally good at evolving? These dudes know the meaning of life. Normally stress and evolution (read: change) results in cancer, dampening the rate at which a body and bones can morph. Manatees, so large as to have no natural predators and not really into vicious infighting can now turn their heads 360. Imagine one of them adorable blubberboxes suddenly, creepily swivelling its head round to look at you.
But then came modernity, whaling and speedboats.
Dreams leave a stain. I’m intent though to change things today.
Talk to A more who pretty much resides with trusty laptop in the kitchen now. Take out the rubbish, buy some Udon for some Japanese carbonara thing I saw on the internet and have friends round for a round in the garden at 7. It’ll be cold and dark with a pandemic on but the beer will surely cheer.
The curtain’s opened for once and life feels too short not to change it.