first published: 25th March 2020
Over the last couple of weeks, I finished reading a couple of books, Imagine me gone (Adam Haslett), A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess) and Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (JRR. Tolkein).
Imagine Me Gone is essentially about a depressed man who to a certain extent is unable to find happiness as the people around him constantly let him down. The protagonist Michael finds it impossible to find a lover due to his mental condition which he inherited from his late father. He becomes obsessed with women who are unattainable because they are married or lesbians. His obsession causes them to avoid him at times. This increases his anxiety. He also has problems getting into college and later graduate school. While he finally gets in both, he does not finish. He drops out of college and a mental breakdown forces him to leave graduate school and move in with his mother. Throughout his life, he has taken out loans with no prospects of being able to pay them back. This also adds to his anxiety. Medication is the only thing that allows him to cope, but the more medication he takes, the more he needs. When Michael has anxiety attacks, he turns to his family for help. They attempt to support him as he chases after the girls who do not show up for dates and he feels as though he cannot breathe. Supporting him often means ignoring others or comes at a financial expense. At the same time, they are trying to manage their own lives. His sister, Celia is not happy with her current job and has problems committing to her live-in boyfriend. While his brother, Alec is gay and also has commitment issues. Michael’s inability to pay back his loans burdens his mother. Alec decides to intervene and proposes to help Michael slowly get off his medication. Michael agrees to give it a try as he wants what his family want for him. However, Michael cannot cope without his medication and dies, leaving a message for his family, where they finally understand him. Michael’s life has a very obvious connection with Fun Home’s Bruce Bechdel. Fun Home hones in on how Alison and Bruce are only able to connect in the later part of her teenage years through her love of books. The book focuses on the relationship and the possible causes that led to Bruce’s suicidal death as well as aspects of him that Alison did not know as a child. This is similar to Michael’s siblings who are unable to completely understand his problems, not until he dies. The misunderstanding between Michael and his family is equally evident in the relationship between Alison and her father where Bruce built walls around himself to hide or imprison himself behind. Like Bruce, Michael seems to be lost behind those walls and bursts out in various monstrous ways but never seems at ease with who he is.