Book Review: James Rice – Alice & the Fly

I read this book for the Waterstone’s book club. It was not a book that I would normally pick up, but I’m glad I did.

Overview:

“This is a book about phobias and obsessions, isolation and dark corners. It’s about families, friendships, and carefully preserved secrets. But above everything else it’s about love. Finding love – in any of its forms – and nurturing it.”

This is a book about a young man called Greg. He is afraid of them and has panic attacks whenever he seems them. He doesn’t fit in at school. On the outside his has the perfect suburban family. Dad is a plastic surgeon, mum does hairdressing on the side but mainly stays at home to look after the family and his sister is obsessed with dancing.

Greg is different to his family. He enjoys classic movies, he seals every crack in his room to prevent them from getting in. Greg falls in love with a girl at school. He wants to run away with her and look after her. Protect her. Unfortunately, love never works out that way.

I am now going to answer the discussion questions that were included at the end of the book.

  1. The Social disparity between Skipdale and The Pitts sets the scene for the novel. Why do you think this is important?

I think this is important because it shows how people on both ends of the spectrum live. I think it’s important to show the environment Greg was raised in comparison to Alice so that we can see just how different their lives are and how the only reason they met is because of school.

2.  What motivates Greg to tell his story?

I think Greg wanted everyone to understand how he felt about Alice and the fact that to him it was real. He did have feelings for Alice even though he didn’t display them in the conventional way.

3. Did this novel contribute to your understanding of phobias?

Yes definitely. It made me realise that my phobias are just the tip of the iceberg in comparison to what some people suffer with. It made me understand just how horrible a phobia can be and how awkward it can make your everyday life.

4. Greg’s parents are fixated on projecting a perfect image. How does this contrast to the reality of their situation?

Greg’s dad is a plastic surgeon and his mum spends her time perfecting each room of the house so that she can impress the right people. I think they do as a coping mechanism. They know Greg has a mental illness and that Sarah (Greg’s sister) has an eating disorder, but they want the outside world to think they have the perfect family life. In order to do this, they try and socialise with all the right people and create the appearance of a perfect family life.

5. Can we see Greg’s obsession with classic Hollywood films influencing his own outlook on life and on romance in particular?

Yes. I think Greg thinks that romance and being in love should be dramatic with a happy ending where the couple run off together. I think he expects relationships to be like those in the films and doesn’t realise that in the real world, relationships are a lot more complicated then that.

6. Do you feel sympathy for Greg’s mother?

Honestly? No. I feel like she hasn’t done enough to support Greg. I understand that she had to put Sarah first after the incident but I feel like Greg was just an inconvenience sometimes and she didn’t know what to do or how to help him. She was too busy trying to show everyone how perfect her life was that she forgot about her son.

7. How far do you think the author has used Greg’s social alienation to expose intricate truths about our modern lives?

I think James has shown how easy it is to become alienated and live in a fantasy world. It so easy for someone to go days or weeks without talking to another person. To build up a fantasy of how they would like things to be until eventually you start to believe more in the fantasy world then you do in reality.

8. Sarah accuses her mother of being repressed. What part does repression play in the novel as a whole and how does it manifest?

I think repression is an important feature of the novel. The Hall family repress their feelings, they brush things under the carpet and carry on acting like they have the perfect little family until eventually everything reaches boiling point. You see this when Greg’s mother orders the perfect settee for the living room so that when their friends came round for dinner they would be impressed and see how beautiful the house is. You see it when Sarah practises non stop for her dance show. She’s doing so that she doesn’t have to focus on the other issues within the family.

 

 

 

 

 

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People.

I remember when I was in primary school, I think I was eight or nine and it was nearly my birthday, my mum said I could have friends round for tea. I was so excited.

The next day I went to school and I asked about half a dozen people if they wanted to come. By the end of the week, I think nearly all of them had an excuse not to attend. I don’t know if the excuses were genuine or not, but I remember the feeling of having to go home and tell my mum. I was devastated.

Over the years, I have tried to arrange get together’s and parties and day’s out, but the same thing seems to keep happening.

It happened on my 21st. My best friends weren’t there. It was me, my ex and some of his friends. Admittedly that was the night I met Jordan and fast forward four years and we’re now living together, but still. I felt so alone.

Somehow over the years, I have just found it easier to keep everyone at arm’s length. That way I can’t be disappointed. I don’t like getting close to people, because they will just find someone better eventually.

I say that I just don’t like people. I like to do my own thing. Which is true, I do like my own space and to just get on with things. I don’t want to be relying on other people.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t get jealous of all the fun other people have. I feel like sometimes I’m just watching from the sidelines and I never get the chance to be part of the fun. I just want to fit in. To be part of the group.

Every time that I think this is finally about to happen, that I’m going to have what I want, it all comes crashing down around me. Maybe I put too much pressure on it, maybe I expect too much and because of that I’m always going to be disappointed.

I just can’t help but feel like I’m always second best.

I remember when I was at College, I had a big argument with my boyfriend and I was in tears walking through town. I text my best friend asking if she was still in town, she text back saying she was already on her way home. Five minutes later I saw her sat on a bench with some friends. She didn’t see me, but I just remember feeling so lonely. I had no one to speak to and I blamed myself. I wasn’t important enough.

I know that as we get older, our priorities change and work, relationships and so on, just get in the way but it doesn’t change the way I feel. When it’s someone’s birthday, I always remember and go to the party. When someone gets married, I buy them a present. I guess I just don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.

I think social media makes it even worse though. You can get all the likes on Facebook or Instagram but it’s not the same as someone actually making the effort to spend some time with you. I don’t understand the people that have hundreds of friends on Facebook. How can you honestly say you are friends with all those people?

Maybe it is my fault. I was painfully shy in primary school and didn’t really improve until College. By that point though, I had a barrier up and I didn’t let many people through it.

Right now I feel that a lot of people only put up with me because of Jordan. Everybody loves Jordan. I love Jordan. Sometimes I feel that I only get invited because of him though and that his friends don’t really want me there. I feel like I finally have the opportunity to have the group of friends that throw parties and go out places, but that I don’t fit in.

Right now, I just want to stay away from everyone. This is what always happens. I get excited, plan something and then it all goes wrong and that barrier goes back up. I push those people away and then I have to warm up to them again.

I have missed out on so much because I didn’t do all the teenage things others did. I didn’t go out drinking at University, I didn’t make the friendships that other people did. And now I feel like I’m trying to catch up. I don’t know what I’m suppose to do.

Some people I work with keep trying to reach out to me. I’m currently stuck between wanting to get to know them better and wanting to run and bury my head in the sand so that I can’t be hurt again.

Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe I’m just not good enough. I don’t know.

It’s my birthday next month. Generally speaking I don’t enjoy birthdays. From the age of 17 until I was 23, my birthdays were not great. It was a mixture of my parents splitting up, a rubbish boyfriend and constantly just feeling alone. I’m not very good at explaining to Jordan what’s wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever told him why each birthday was bad. I don’t like opening old wounds.

I can’t complain though, when it comes to birthday’s Jordan is pretty good. I’m lucky I have him.

 

Jealousy…

It eats away at you. It’s almost like a poison running through your body and, no matter how much you try to control it, you can’t. Eventually, you end up letting it out.

Now I’m not saying we all turn into the woman from Fatal Attraction and start boiling people’s pets, but we all do something stupid when we’re jealous.

I’m the first to admit that my jealousy stems from the fact that I’m really insecure and, afraid that someone is going to prefer other people to me, or is going to leave me and, so on. This resulted in me staying with someone, who wasn’t right for me, for seven years. I was afraid to be honest and go after what I really wanted.

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I tend to find that most of the time, jealousy is irrational. I was once jealous of my friend just because she shared the same birthday as our favourite pop star. I’m not even kidding! In reality, it didn’t matter. I just felt that because they had the same birthday, they connected. I mean I was twelve, but even I know that’s ridiculous. I share my birthday with Will Smith and, as much as I’d loved for that to mean we’re connected; I know it doesn’t.

I have been suffering from jealousy recently. It’s pretty bad as well. Jealousy coupled with paranoid thoughts. For the most part, I can shake them off and know that I’m being stupid. But, there’s that little voice in the back of my head, that keeps saying “…but are you being stupid?”

I have no right to be jealous. We’ve had ‘the’ conversation and it’s not the right time. At first, I was okay with this and, felt all mature that I’d handled it so well. I accepted that I wouldn’t be hearing from this person much and so on.

However, when I see that this person is online, a part of me still hopes. And it is because of that hope, that I still get jealous and, can’t help but wonder.

images (3)Right now, I’m trying to find ways to deal with this. Comedy helps. Laughter really is the best medicine. I find watching stand up and things like Friends, does take your mind of it. And the next time you think about it, it doesn’t seem so bad.

That is until the high from the laughter has run out.

But for now, it’s better than nothing. And I’ll take that.

x

#ThrowbackThursday

It’s been seven years today since I first started going out with this boy;

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He is an absolute pain in the arse and does my head in, but I would be lost without him.

How we’ve lasted this long without killing each other is beyond me.

Regardless of how annoying he can be, I do love him and, he does have his moments…I guess!

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Fact of the day: 31st March

On this day in 1889 The Eiffel Tower was officially opened.

The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.98 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.

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The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second. The third level observatory’s upper platform is 276 m above the ground, the highest accessible to the public in the European Union. Tickets can be purchased to ascend by stairs or lift to the first and second levels. The climb from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. Although there are stairs to the third and highest level, these are usually closed to the public and it is generally only accessible by lift.

Say Anything…

I watched Say Anything for the first time the other night. And I actually really enjoyed it!

For those of you don’t know anything about the film, here’s a quick summary.

The film is about teenager who have just graduated High school and are about to start the rest of their lives. Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) dreams of being a kickboxer and is madly infatuated with the smartest girl in school. Diane Court (Ione Skye) has won a fellowship to study in England. Despite her intelligence she was very socially inexperienced and was intrigued by Lloyd’s mannerisms and decided to take a chance on him.

Through the summer the relationship develops and it’s clear Diane is falling for Lloyd. Unfortunately though, Diane has other concerns. Her father (John Mahoney – Martin/Frasier’s dad in Frasier) is under investigation by the IRS and it turns out that he has been committing  many tax violations. Add in the fact that Diane feels guilty for not spending enough time with her father and the fact that he does not approve of Lloyd and, it sounds like every typical teenage experience.

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Lloyd ultimately wins Diane’s heart before the summer’s end, and supports her emotionally after her father’s conviction and incarceration. The film ends with Lloyd escorting the aviophobic Diane on her flight to England.

The reason I liked this film was because it was so honest. There was no games, no lying or leaving someone waiting…to an extent. It was refreshing to see a male character actually act like a man, rather than a typical guy. A line that is used in the film, ‘Don’t be a guy. Be a man.’

Personally I think boys now focus from a young age about ‘being one of the boys.’ They want to have a laugh and look like they don’t care, when they do. Growing up with that, it’s not nice. It’s confusing, you never know where you stand and, eventually you stop being interested.

The other thing I liked about this film was when the two main characters slept together for the first time. Firstly, it was nice that it wasn’t made out to be a big deal in the film. There was no massive lead up to it and then several sex scenes. It happened and then the story continued.

Secondly, after it happened, Lloyd was the one worrying. It was nice to see it from that point of view. He then wrote her a letter. Now I don’t know about other girls, but if I had just had my first sexual experience and that person wrote me a letter, pretty certain I’d be putty in their hands.

It was a surprisingly good film and fills you with hope that one day all guys will be real men like Lloyd.