Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Youth and Consequences

Non-fiction has taken over the household. Husband is currently reading The New Kings of Non-Fiction, edited by Ira Glass, and keeps proclaiming its greatness from the sofa. And I have begun my non-fiction commitment binge-- I just finished Jan Wong's Beijing Confidential. I must admit that I am yet not suffering from lack of life as I thought I might have been. No, there was life aplenty in Wong's book, and even if there hadn't been, I am taking supplements of The Mitfords anyway. I don't miss fiction yet. But there are five books still to go in my binge, and not all as narratively driven as Beijing Confidential either, so we shall see.

As a reader I will never cease to be fascinated by how unlikely books can inform one another by virtue of being read in close proximity. Though really it's unsurprising to think about how much a book of letters between six infamous British aristocrats and a Canadian's Maoist memoir/ travelogue might have in common-- I just never considered. But both are in many ways concerned the political impressionability of youth-- terrifyingly, really. How much power a young person can come to wield, unknowingly or otherwise. The predictability of it all as well: the twin yearnings for belonging and independence which are so often the root of political extremism. The ways in which consequences are so little considered reminded me of both India Knight's recent column "The young's invincibility illusion" and my recent reading of Esther Freud's Love Falls. Anyway, more on this will be forthcoming in my reviews of both books.