Monday, September 28, 2009

Nothing About Love or Pity

You think your life is shit, and then you read Nami Mun’s debut novel, Miles From Nowhere, and you realize you don’t even know what shit is. I read this book in a feverish haze, while sick, and reflected on the comforts of reading about other people’s misery.

(I don’t go in too often for miserable movies; I was pissed as hell at Bjork for Dancer in the Dark, but had it been a book I would have loved it.)

Miles from Nowhere is one of those books that blurbs call “gritty” and “unsentimental” and “bleak” because it deals with homelessness and prostitution, needles and relapses and misplaced love, and it deals with these things honestly. It’s an urban tale about (and by) a Korean woman who moved to the Bronx when she was a girl with a family on the edge of dissolution. It's not that you haven't heard the story before, but have you heard it from a beautiful Korean woman? Mun acknowledges the incongruity and moves on.

I still have a head full of cold, so I'm doing my favorites in bullet point style:

Joon struggles with her addiction (“I was proud of myself for having shot up exactly the right amount. Just enough to see the world without being in it.”);

She struggles with others’ expectations (“I didn’t know what to do with all their hope…Failure had better odds.”);

She struggles with her own expectations (“I had created a new life for myself but I didn’t know what to do with it. Like staring at a finished jigsaw puzzle, where the only thing left to do was mess it up again”). 

It’s maybe not your life, but it’s real life. If you don’t like it, I hear Dan Brown has a new book out.

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