She Said He Said by Hanif Kureishi, 2019
The magic trick:
Showing how confrontation means nothing when there is no agreed upon set of social expectation
When folks look back on the social morass of the Trump/#MeToo Era, wondering what it was all like, this story will be an accurate, concise summary to present them.
The plot machinations here feel like the bones of a novel. Everything is moving very quickly. One thing happens and then the next follows and then the next thing and the next thing. Actions, conversations, reactions.
These characters are doing an excellent job of confronting their problems and expressing their feelings. The problem is, suddenly, that doesn’t seem to be enough. The previously agreed upon ground rules for socially acceptable behavior have been tossed aside. Now some things are applied at some times to some people. Other things are not applied at other times to other people.
So all the confronting in the world isn’t going to fix anything. It feels like chaos. Nothing changes. Nothing gets fixed.
And that’s quite a trick on Kureishi’s part.
Len thanked Mateo for his consideration. After their meeting, he walked around the park for a long time, unable to put the conversation out of his mind. Silence breeds poison, he thought, and what had happened pressed on him more and more, until an idea occurred. He would discuss it with Mateo’s wife, Marcie. She and Mateo were still married but no longer together, living next door to each other as friends. Marcie had been seriously ill recently, but Len was keen to know whether she found her husband’s seduction attempts ugly, crazy, or something else. Maybe he was having a breakdown? Or was he just an imbecile and Len had failed to notice?
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