Monday, May 13, 2013

In The Hallways Of School

The problem with quoting authors' thoughts of a book on that book, it does sway my opinion of it. On Alexander Maksik's 'You Deserve Nothing', there's a quote by Alice Sebold which stated "Rare and fearless".

Now, I don't like 'The Lovely Bones', its film treatment, or Alice Sebold's writing. The rational mind knows I should form an objective opinion about this book, but seeing those words made me think twice. Anyway, I read it. I wanted to read this before deciding whether to pick up his new 'A Marker to Measure Drift'.

The background of how this book has been written is mired in controversy. The story goes of a supposedly wonderful but perhaps flawed teacher Will Silver in an international school in Paris in the early 2000s. He goes on to have an affair with his student, Marie de Cléry; the roles the teacher and student assumed of the seduced and the temptress. Of course there's a pregnancy, and an abortion. The book explores the ripples, shockwaves and repercussions that ensued. So apparrently, Alexander Maksik was formerly, a teacher at an international school in Paris who lost his job. Blah blah blah blah blah. You know where this is going. (Read the details here; reviews here, here and here.)

The narration shifts between Will, Marie, and another male student Gilad Fisher who is a secret admirer of Will but doesn't take his classes. There're so many nuances within that it moves as though I'm watching a movie or a tv series. Kinda Glee-ish, I thought. Can't help thinking of Will Schuester. The writing is plain and effective. The story, and how it's strung together work well in presenting the entirety of the issues to readers. This particular poignant scene, of Will having dinner with Mia Keller, a colleague, at her apartment, with another couple Séb and Pauline. He and Mia has some sort of chemistry, and she seems interested, but he doesn't seem to want to take it further. And in that scene, it sums up that bit of regret he might have felt about his life, especially how as a jaded teacher of 10 years in the career, he used "other fantasies" to "avoid the apparent permanence of [my] present life."

"And you?" Séb asked. "How did you two meet?"
"Oh, we're not —" Mia began.
"We're not together," I said.
They both laughed.
"You're serious?" Pauline looked amazed.
"Friends," I said.
"I don't believe you," Séb said.
"Moi non plus." Pauline smiled.
"No, it's true." Mia looked up and when Pauline saw her eyes, she stopped laughing.
"We just assumed."
"Oh, you're not the first," I said.
Mia began to clear and Pauline followed. When they were in the kitchen talking, Séb put his arms on the table and leaned forward.
"Mais pourquoi?" He asked, like I was a lunatic.
"C'est ma faute," I said. "Je sais pas."
He looked at me for a long moment and then shook his head.

Ahhh...the what-could-have-beens. But that wouldn't have made a good novel, ain't it? While I don't object to the novel's controversies, or its themes, all in all, I'm not sure I like how the story unfolded in this book or even the way it has been presented.

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