Okay so I know the entire rest of the internet is talking about the second debate, which I did incidentally watch, but I don’t have much to say about it (except holy shit did you see the way Donald Trump talked to that Muslim woman who was looking for reassurance? It was incredibly callous.)
Anyway I tried to read THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN awhile ago, but I could never get into it. The book felt too choppy. I couldn’t figure out what was happening. But on impulse, because I had a spare audible credit, I got the audio version recently, and now I’m really into it.
I just really love the sheer strength and energy of this protagonist’s self-absorption. She is utterly obsessed by her own pain, and I think it’s awesome. I mean that’s not surprising. I have a strong track record, both in life and in art, of loving the unloveable. The character she most reminds me of is the protagonist of Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs, who was a deeply angry and deeply lonely woman who becomes obsessed with the couple who lives below her.
But The Girl On The Train goes way beyond The Woman Upstairs, because, first of all, it has a plot (which really does help push things along once the drama gets a little tiring), but because of the sheer performativity of the protagonist’s despair. She does not give a fuck. She is gonna drink canned gin and tonics by the handful, and she is gonna vomit everywhere, and she is gonna drunk dial her ex, and she is gonna stalk this random couple, and although she might feel momentarily ashamed, she is not gonna stop any of it, goddammit, because she is sad! And she is lonely! And she has been betrayed! And she wants to force the universe to acknowledge that she exists!
Actually, I find the novel a little bit triggering, because it truly does capture, in the way that few books do, the escape that alcoholism involves. It’s an escape into nothingness: once you drink enough, you can get away from any problem you have. But it’s also an escape into freedom. When you’re really drunk, you unlock the perfectly powerful person you always knew you could be. And the dangerous thing about alcohol is that it’s not an illusion. When you’re drunk, you really do possess a kind of superpower: the ability to do and say the sorts of things that most people only fantasize about.
Anyway I’m only 25% of the way through, but I’m anxious to see what happens next.