In the end, the brother and sister played by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in the searing but warmly realistic ‘Shame’, are so clearly ruined that it is hard to imagine a pain they have not endured. But what? I don’t care what it was, to be honest. Perhaps this incident was so horrendous that nothing they ever do, good or bad, will match that moment.
What we’re up against is Alphaville, the deconstruction of the human which can’t be accomplished unless our everyday literary culture is dismantled first. That’s a world where no one can ask why only because. Where there can be no rebellion and words are systematically banned from the dictionary because they would encourage independent ideas.
Death hangs around Brandon like a necklace. People die, and that’s what defines this story, but it seems to me that this is more about Brandon’s inability to accept death as a part of life. Of course he is moving on, but is he really? His parents have voluntarily departed this mortal coil, and left Brandon and his sister the family house. Brandon lets that drift away, and he finds it particularly hard to enter his parents bedroom where they died.
From my prejudiced POV, this wicked little atom of a collection is the perfect remedy for anyone, like myself, who sometimes suffers from the very stale beer of American realism. That sort of placid realism, which as Lionel Trilling has observed, doesn’t think of our ideas as part of reality…consigning our fantasy lives to some netherworld…banning our interior dreams and nightmares from the sacred precincts of fiction.
I’d say I shopliftabout 75% of the books I read. I can run surprisingly fast for a tall person. But, when I actually do buy a book, I try to hit The Ivy Bookstore—which, for those who don’t know, is a great indie bookstore in Baltimore. My two year old single-handedly destroys their children’s book department every time she’s there.
It’s brilliant sleight-of-hand by Gardam who keeps her fictional cake while eating it. She has a character who’s a social misfit, impractical for all her vaunted practicality and self-reliance, but still makes her a daughter-in-law via role playing. And it’s not unkind, it’s one the the many surreal but touching scenes in the book. It seems to scream, man, this is weird, only no one says it is, which is ideal.