Give Me Everything You Have
The British writer James Lasdun doesn't seem to tackle things lightly. Not when he's writing about guns, and certainly not when he's talking about stalking. In his latest "Give Me Everything You Have" he writes about his own experiences in exactly this regard. The lovely situation of having a former student that misunderstands love, for another kind of obsessive love is always a real thrill.
Perhaps professors or teachers, and even assistant teachers, open themselves up to the situation and should be warned before signing up for the job - guiding a bunch of open-headed and eager people to somewhere new, somewhere they've never been. It does certainly turn some folks on to be taught something new, then to have some red swatches made on their papers and then lastly to be ushered and encouraged to make some more mistakes and come back tomorrow. It is certainly the case with lunatic Nasreen, Lasdun's lady stalker, who felt like email communication with her teacher was the perfect place for her to start flirting with him.
The critique that Lasdun has received, "he should have seen it coming" and "he couldn't stopped it" firstly does not make for an interesting memoir read and secondly, unfortunately life does not work like that every time. These things are real, they happen and the consequences are let's just be frank rather than dismal just to be brief about it. The man, a seasoned writer, is still just a man and that means he reacted in the way most humans would have. He does however not go much into the evil that lies within his stalker and somehow dismisses her just to be crazy, except for his fascination for her anti-Semitic slurs - that seems to stir him.
The book itself, a memoir, is written smartly albeit that he digresses a lot about his life and his own travels. It comes across as a great translation of actual events. Do we feel sorry for the man? A little, but maybe not enough. We want to feel more of this pain and how he uses the opportunity to see something bigger about himself, but maybe he just isn't that guy. Or maybe he just couldn't communicate that.
Do we feel sorry for her? Not at all. Especially not after she sent this to the London Review of Books: 'His writing is boring and doesn't sell. Stop publishing that hairy-nosed Jewish wanna-be-Protestant bore of a boar. His wife's cunt smells of dead rabbits. His girlfriends are the most hideous.'
"Give Me Everything You Have"
Farrar, Straus and Giroux