Fear and Loathing in Hailsham
Between here, Stockholm and back again I read “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thomson and “Never Let me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro.
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” was a fast paced drug fuelled riot of unwise behaviour and lucky breaks for the narrator/writer and his Attorney. For all the depravity and hallucinations, it was “beautifully” written – really well crafted – so I was torn between being my utter lack of interest in drugs and violence and my enchantment with the writer’s turns of phrase – practically every sentence was worth re-reading. But I can’t find a single thing to put here as a quote that doesn’t offend me in some way, despite being impressed with the quotability of it.
I was less conflicted with “Never Let Me Go”.
It is set in a a kind of dystopian world where clones are bred and raised in schools with a growing awareness of their future roles as organ donors. The narrator, Kathy, attends a school called Hailsham that encourages their students to have as full a life as possible, despite their ultimate purpose. It reminded me a lot of “The Handmaid’s Tale” insofar as the narrator is oppressed and abused in body in a world where escape seems impossible.
The weird thing about “Never Let Me Go” was the acceptance of the students’ lot in life as sub-human spare parts. At no point did Kathy and her friends even seem to imagine freedom from their role – there was a wish for “deferral” of donations – but no scheme to escape.
There was a part of the book where they trace a “possible” for one of the characters, Ruth. A “possible” was someone who might have been the person originally cloned to make Ruth. If I had been the novelist, then Kathy, Ruth and friends would have murdered the possible and Ruth would have taken on the free life of the possible. But that isn’t what happened. (Maybe I’d been reading too much “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas”.)
“Never Let Me Go” was narrated as memories that dipped in and out of each other. I wonder if I was meant to feel the frustration I did with the characters who didn’t fight for equality and just accepted things as they are.
Maybe that was the point.