We’re always telling ourselves and others little lies. Sometimes we know that we do this. Sometimes we don’t. At least not right away. Perhaps a song or two awakens us. Or a sunset. Not from a silly little Hallmark Card. But a real sunset. A vulnerable sunset with character deficiencies and the kinds of colors that mix in a slightly embarrassing way, as if they’re the result of a clash of embittered personalities, instead of one master painter.
I’m in the middle of Kazuo Ishiguro’s brilliant Never Let Me Go, and the story so far provokes strong reactions, though the writing is subtle, controlled, measured and very natural. Irony, cross-purposes, mixed messages and purposeful lying flash across the page. To hurt. To wound. For the sake of revenge. For the sake of elevating oneself above the fray, even if that fray is manufactured mostly by the mind.
The narrator, Kathy H, an honest liar of sorts, and wise in the ways of her own dishonesty, is perhaps not to be trusted as a narrator. Much like John Dowell in Ford Madox Ford’s classic, The Good Soldier, she may protest too much, at least in the early stages. Is she really as helpless as she seems? Is she really the victim of the much more assertive and pushy Ruth? I like her all the same. I like her because of her complexity and mystery and think Carey Mulligan was a wonderful choice to play her in the movie of the same name. More on that book later . . . .
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For some reason, I usually think of these two songs together, even though they were released almost ten years apart. They both represent a certain kind of self-deception, with one being more artful and less worried about the audience’s ability to understand subtlety and irony.
10 cc’s I’m not in love. 1975
And more than nine years later . . .
John Waite’s Missing You. 1984