Thursday, 16 April 2009

'stranger than fiction'

I seem to be getting into a habit of making my post titles a little misleading. But I'm sure you appreciate that thinking up a blog title is surprisingly difficult; I should have just subscribed to the idea of making all your titles a song lyric or simply a number, but I'm way not cool enough. Anyway, although it's not that relevant, for those who haven't seen it, Stranger Than Fiction is a film about a man who starts to hear an author narrating his life in his head. The author is a woman who is suffering from writer's block and is trying to decide how to kill the protagonist of the story: the man whom we watch hearing his own life being narrated. Clear as mud? Good. Actually, I was surprised to find that I really liked the film. I suppose my strong dislike for Will Ferrell and romantic comedies was balanced out by my girl crush on Maggie Gyllenhaal (and the cool plot about writing). So, maybe you should just go see it.

ANYWAY. Last month I posted about this book I had almost bought, and then a couple of weeks ago I bought it. And then this week I started reading it, and now today I am rapidly reaching the end and I don't want it to stop!

This is definitely not Nobel Prize winning stuff, but it's charming and readable and it has an interesting context (which I wrote about in my past post). Plus, I think it deserves a prize for its wonderful ability to relax a stressed and tired me.

The thing which really surprised me about this book, and which prompted the post title 'stranger than fiction' is the way in which the character Mary seems to mirror how I feel. Yes, I am a teenage girl from London like her, but she went through teenagedom around 70 years before me. And yet she, too, goes through all the same motions and feelings that I do. To name a few: wanting to cut your hair really short, dabbling in the 'arts', falling in love with Paris... I could go on.

Now I am really sorry that these days all of my posts seem to end in the same way: with a 'now this led me to wondering if' and then a smattering of question marks and then opening the question up to the readers. It would be better if I could actually come to some sort of conclusion about my ponderings. But reading 'Mariana' really has led me to wondering: despite the difference in facts and statistics - I have never owned a country house, I do not have a dead father, nor an acting uncle and I did not grow up in the 1930s - are all our experiences of growing up fundamentally the same?

That could be quite a depressing thought to the struggling non-conformist, who wishes to soak in their angsty solitude. Maybe I shouldn't mention to them that I've felt that exact same angst too, and so have many others, and so has Mary of 'Mariana'.

Monica Dickens, author of 'Mariana', probably went through it all too.

PS this post was pre-scheduled (please appreciate the willpower it took not to put it up straight away!) so I apologise for not responding immediately to your philosophical and wise responses to the questions I have put forward.


  1. I think there are strings of feelings that you get regardless of circumstances....

  2. interesting post. i'm going to look for this book now. its left me pondering!

  3. You make an excellent point, there are aspects of humanity that are ever present regardless of the century, and I think acknowledgment of this is what makes the best novels. You can relate to them whether reading them on publishing or 300 years later

    And I REALLY want to read this now!!