OT: 2 off-topic requests for book ideas

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Sep 21 16:15:16 EDT 2004

I wrote:

>> I didn't read it as "she will never" at all, any part of it.  It was a "she
>> hasn't *yet*", mostly, for me.  Let's face it, "normal love relationships"
>> hasn't happened (if by that you mean boy-and-girl)

and the Knowledge Pika came back (evidently having the book to hand; you
must forgive me if I quote wrong, I haven't got it any more and haven't had
for some years now)

>"A slender young girl, all grace and innocence, held the hand of the boy
>who walked with her. His jacket hung loosely on her. walked around the
>field past her. A few times they stopped, playing or saying something
>that ended in laughter; he would lean over nuzzling her gathered-up
>hair or her cheek.
>Deborah talked to herself out loud, the way crazy people do. "I will
>never have that," she said. "Not by fighting or study or work or
>withstanding will I be able to walk with one of them or be warmed by
>their hands."

Ah yes.  I wonder how many times the average teenager makes some similar
remark (though not necessarily aloud, it might be to his or her
longsuffering best friend in the changing rooms) when she or he hasn't yet
had a boyfriend or girlfriend!  Maybe she's a bit older than most making
that sort of despairing noise, but then she has cut a five-year chunk out
of her life.

I think that's a bit before the end, isn't it?  Some time before the last
blowup she has in the book, before she gets the college possibility?  As I
recall, on the last couple of pages she is back in the D-ward having just
come out of a pack, with her college textbooks, telling the wonderful gods
of her own country that she is making her choice, no matter what, to hang
with the world "full weight" and leave them behind.  That didn't seem to me
like someone giving up, it seemed like someone who was going somewhere she
had decided for herself, and showing all the courage in the world.  I'd say
the message there was of indomitable hope, rather than despair.  No matter
that she has to face a world that has in her memory contained Hitler (and
she's Jewish) and the bomb, and "sanity papers" and people's faces going
blank when they discover her history of mental imbalance, she is now going
out there on her own terms, without her pantheon of gods to shield her from

I will freely say that I agree she has missed out on being an adolescent
(she's what, twenty by the end of the book?) and that she will be a
schizophrenic, or be prone to that particular imbalance, all her life.  I
don't see her deeply negative feeling whilst she is still in the depths as
being final.  Maybe it's because I had a best-friend's-mother who was
schizophrenic, and was often very deeply disturbed and disturbing, but who
nevertheless when not in the Pit was deeply loved, deeply lovable, and a
very good person indeed.  Even in the 1960s there were drugs to help, and
people who understood, and something to be made of being a human being who
happened to have that set of chemical imbalances in their system messing up
their views of the world some of the time.

Of ten units: four worry, three hope, and one bewilderment.
That is only eight.
Oh, two are for miscellaneous.

Anyhow, if one were teaching using that book as a text it could easily be
shown as having that aspect within it.  I ought to mention that when I
first read it I thought it was autobiography, and that didn't seem to me to
be impossible, so I have to assume that I supposed her to have become a
writer, and maybe an artist, and maybe a person who looked the world in the
face and spat in its eye.  Why not?  She'd been strong all the way through,
why would she stop at the end?


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