Thursday, 5 February 2015

Review: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The affliction of shallow people everywhere - wanting a person only until it occurs to you that you have succeeded in obtaining them. This book is a great study of this character flaw, presenting it from the perspective of somebody who is, for the purpose of successful introspection, a little overeducated and thus blind to his own failings. Nathaniel spends a great deal of time trying to puzzle out what it is precisely that without fail suddenly puts him off of these fantastic women that he previously felt great tenderness towards, and he never acknowledges how obviously formulaic it is: Nathaniel loves and admires somebody, then he notices how cosy and wonderful everything is, becomes huffy and petulant, and then loses all respect for the woman in question when she becomes hurt and confused at his behaviour. This, in his mind, becomes her problem; that she is too eager to please him, that her happiness is too dependent on a man's treatment of her.

Nathaniel, being an educated man, likes to paint a picture of his thoughts being influenced by his progressive feminism and fails to recognise the self-loathing that is apparent in his behaviour - he can only respect a woman that isn't dumb enough to love him. This is made clear by his frequent mooning over exes, if and only if they seem not to care too much about him anymore. It is his idea of himself as a nice and progressive man that causes him to toy with these women, pulling back and forth, gaining and losing respect for them according to how much he causes them to care for him and then suddenly withdrawing.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, because I love writing that puts forward the complexity of human interactions in a way that is understandable. Not many people treat others badly for the sake of it, these failings are always justified to the person committing them, usually through lack of insight into their own motivations as in the case of Nathaniel. Would definitely recommend.

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