LIVING ON THE MARGINS

Dear Ella and Suse,
I feel very  much like I am  far from the centre of things, living on the
margins. Can you give me literary solace?
Yours,
On the Margins
Dear Living on the Margins,
This is an ailment which many of us feel, even when some would say that we live in the thick of it. For some, living in the heart of London still feels marginal, as they may feel that way for social or political reasons as much as geographical ones. So this ailment is a very pertinent one for many of our readers. There are many books that investigate this feeling, from classic literature with books like Homer’s Odyssey tackling the theme, to Remembering Babylon by David Malouf, in which an English boy is marooned on an island with only aborigines for company -  but when Europeans settle on the island he attempts to rejoin the European world, which of course is not easy. We think that what you need to read now, however, is the recently published An Unnecessary Woman by Rabeh Alammedine. The heroine of this ruminative novel is a Lebanese lady of 72 who has devoted her life to translating books into Arabic, none of which have ever been read by anyone else but her. Aaliya is unapologetically her own person, unattractively dressed, unfriendly to her neighbours,  more able to inhabit the skin of an Alice Munro character than to be able to relate to her own mother or siblings. “I long ago abandoned myself to a blind lust for the written word. Literature is my sandbox … If literature is my sandbox, then the real world is my hourglass – an hourglass that drains grain by grain. Literature gives me life, and life kills me.” But her love of literature is what animates her and the book, and what shows that living on the margins can be true of anyone in any place, but it doesn’t make you any less important, or make your life any less valid, than the people that live in the very center of it all.
Once you’ve read this, pick up the ever-brilliant Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec, in which Bartlebooth is the main character of a book full of people doing rather unnecessary and pointless things, living in the center of Paris. Their worlds are rich, colourful and fantastical, but their directions in life are seemingly inconsequential. You will be heartened by this vicarious experience of a life at the center of a great metropolis, and realise again that your own ‘marginal’ existence is no less valid than theirs.
Yours,
Ella and Suse
Brilliant cure ella and really nice the way you refer to other writers too along the way. Btw Alice Munro spelled with a U. xx
We prescribe - An Unnecessary Woman by Rabeh Alammedine
Life: A User's Manual by Georges Perec
  • Amazing , i thinks so to Remembering Babylon by David Malouf, in which an English boy is marooned on an island with only aborigines for company

    By hyundai Ngoc an on 28 Sep 2017

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A SLUG WITH VISIONS OF HUMANITYABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP ENDED, LEAVING SCARSADULT ACNEAFRAID OF FAILUREALCOHOLIC DAUGHTERALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEAAlways wanted to be a writerANOREXICANXIOUS ABOUT SINGLE FRIENDAT A FORK IN THE ROADAVID READER, LACKING BOOKBEREFT OF A CATBORED IN ALABAMABOTHERED AND BEWILDEREDBRAIN SHRINKING MOMMABROKENBROKEN HEARTBROKEN HEARTED - TORN BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE BEST FRIENDSBROKEN UP WITH GIRLFRIEND; FEELING BURNT OUTCAN’T MOVE ONCANDIDA REVOLTAIRECan’t afford to go on holidayCAST ASIDECHEATEDCHRONIC PAINCOLD HANDS AND FEETCONCERNED ABOUT DAUGHTERCONFLICTED PARTNERSCRAVING FOOD CULTURECYNICAL STEPSONDAILY ABUSEDARK NIGHT OF THE SOULDEPRESSED AND UNABLE TO READDEPRESSED DURING CHRISTMAS, AND LONELY NOWDESPERATELY WANTON GIRLDIRECTIONLESSEASILY BORED WITH NOVELSEMOTIONALLY SABOTAGED BY MY MOTHEREMOTIONS IN EXTREMEEVER THE FRIEND AND NOT THE PARTNEREXTREME ANGER AND FRUSTRATIONFADING AWAYFALLEN OUT WITH MY FRIENDSFALLING IN LOVE WAY TOO FASTFAZED AND CONFLICTEDFEAR OF CONFRONTATIONFEAR OF GETTING OLDFERTILITY PROBLEMSFOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT)FORGING A BRIGHT NEW FUTUREFRIEND WHO HAS LOST A CHILD LATE IN PREGNANCYFRIENDS DAUGHTER LOST TO SUICIDEFrightened of lifeGAPING HOLEGetting over a break-upGIRL OF UNCERTAINTY, BOUND BY RULESGIRL WHO DOESN’T FIT INGRIPPED BY LOSSGUILTY FRIENDHOPELESSNESSHOUSE AND LIBRARY DESTROYED BY FIREI love music more than booksI no longer commute – and therefore I no longer readI PEEK AT THE END OF NOVELS BECAUSE I WORRY THE CHARACTER MIGHT NOT MAKE ITI wish I were famousIN MOURNING OVER LITERARY DEATHSINABILITY TO SIT STILL AND ANXIETYINCONSISTENT AND NON-STUDIOUS- BUT AMBITIOUS NONETHELESSINDECISIVEINSECUREINTERESTED IN EVERYTHING BUT ACHIEVING NOTHINGINVISIBLE WOMANITALIAN NOVEL CURESJILTED AND UNSUREJOB IN LIBRARY UNDER THREATKICKED IN THE HEADLEADENLIVING ON THE MARGINSLONE RANGERLONELY AND DEJECTEDLONELY IN LOVELONELY IN MONOTONOUS JOB, LOSING SANITYLOOKING FOR A SENSE OF PURPOSELOOKING FORWARDSLOSS OF A SISTERLOSTLOW WATTAGELOW-ENERGY PESSIMISMMAD SCIENTISTMARRIED TO A MAN, ATTRACTED TO WOMENMISSED THE BOATMISSING MY MOTHER-IN-LAWMUM GOING BACK TO WORKNEED TO LET GONEW CITY, NEW LIFE -BOOKS FOR 12 YEAR OLD BOY?NEW FRIENDSHIP WITH HOLOCAUST SURVIVORNIGHTMARISH COLLEAGUENOMADIC FLANEURPOST NATAL DEPRESSIONPREGNANT AND ALONE