Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: Give Me Everything You Have by James Lasdun

James Lasdun is an author and literature/writing professor who has been stalked for years by a student.  When he first met Nasreen, she was a promising student in his class.  They reconnected years later and began a friendship that took place largely over email.  Eventually Nasreen attempted to move from a friendship to a romantic relationship, leading Lasdun, who was happily married, to put the brakes on their conversation.  When that happened, Nasreen started sending angry emails, which eventually escalated to a full campaign to ruin Lasdun personally and professionally.  This book chronicles their relationship and attempts to take a philosophical look at his own experience as well as through the lens of racial, social, and political motivations.

The book is certainly well-written.  It isn't a thriller or even a thrilling memoir - it's a very philosophical look at a specific experience in the author's life.  I think when you read "memoir" and "stalking", you have a certain expectation of a level of tension or suspense or danger that will be evident in the book, but that's not what you're going to find here.  It's written in a very introspective style, with a large focus on the more philosophical implications of Nasreen's stalking, which entailed many attacks relating to her status as a Middle Eastern woman and his status as a Jewish American.  Lasdun looks in detail at the history of political and social tensions in the Middle East and how they impacted and reflected on his experiences with Nasreen.

Entertainment Value
Well, like I mentioned above, the book is much more literary and philosophical than it is intense and exciting. About halfway through, things got pretty slow for me.  It's not a terribly long book, and I think it's worth reading if you're interested in the author himself or if you're intrigued by how he ties social, racial, and political situations in the Middle East relate to his experience being stalked online.  But if you're looking for a fast-paced memoir of a harrowing experience, I think you might find this on the slow side.

This was was just ok for me.  I appreciated Lasdun's story and his unique point of view, but at times I felt like he was trying too hard to be philosophical and that the book suffered from over-emphasis on the implications of the stalking in a global and historical context as opposed to a personal context.

1 comment:

  1. Appears it had potential, but with a slow, introspective middle, even if short, may not be exactly right for me, either.