Nothing by Janne Teller
If Sartre made a baby with Lord of the Flies, this would be it. Creepy existentialist musings about death, freedom, fear, isolation, nihilism and…(but, of course) the abyss. Nothing explores some of the things we’ll do to each other in the name of power and in the name of fear. A delicious read, this was right up my alley.
Parts of the book reminded me of The Butterfly Revolution, which I wrote about here, but it also reminded me of my college days when my friends and I used to write our own existentialist plays with titles like: “In Which Jean-Paul Sartre Plays Tug-O-War With the Abyss And Sartre Does That Thing Where He Lets Go Of The Rope And The Abyss Falls On Her Ass.”
Ah, Santa Cruz. Good times. Fiat slug!
Break by Hannah Moskowitz
A short, enthralling and emotionally evocative book, I’ve wanted to read this for ages. What really struck me about Break (which is about a teenager trying to break every bone in his body) is how well the book captures the ‘self-soothing’ nature of self-injurious behavior. The juxtaposition of the main character’s behavior against a backdrop of a baby that can’t soothe itself is especially effective.
For me, personally, this book brought up a lot of feelings around the way our culture insists we learn to self-soothe from such an early age (infancy), and how we aren’t taught to look to others for reassurance and support (or we’re taught that such behavior is weak or to be pathologized). There’s one scene, in particular, in which the main character has trouble sleeping and rather desperately seeks out comfort from others. You can’t help but picture a tiny infant in a crib being asked to “cry it out” and wonder what can happen when emotional soothing is linked with physical pain. Another dark read, but well worth it.
And now onto February. More months, more books…