Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun
|Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A riveting look at what it's like to be stalked, not physically but online. The impotence is frightening - the writing elegant and moving.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: February 2014|
In the autumn of 2003 James Lasdun taught a fiction workshop as part of the graduate writing programme at a place he calls Morgan College. On all such courses the quality of the students is very variable but one writer stood out as having talent. He calls her Nasreen. He offered help over and above the course but Nasreen read a personal interest into this - which wasn't in any way reciprocated. An email correspondence which had been friendly turned nasty, with accusations that Nasreen's work had been stolen to sell to other writers, that he had had an affair with another student and that he had arranged for Nasreen to be raped. Anti-semitic comments were made. Obsessive love had turned to obsessive hate.
Other people were dragged into the correspondence, offensive reviews were posted on Amazon and the flow of emails became a flood. Nasreen was careful to keep her words on the right side of being criminally actionable and there was nothing that the authorities could do to help him. He was advised not to block the emails - to read them in case they overstepped the actionable mark - and much as he hated having to do so he read in case of a hint that there was another review somewhere which he would need to have removed. Nasreen became all consuming in her intention - openly stated - to ruin him.
I could have forgiven Lasdun for being angry as he found that there was little if anything which he could do about what was happening to him, but he's compassionate. Occasionally he can even see the funny side. The history of the stalking is interspersed with essays on varied subjects. Honour and/or reputation where the internet is concerned is perhaps an obvious extension given the methods the stalker employed, but his thoughts on mental health - or lack of it - are moving and what he has to say about Middle Eastern politics is informative.
The book could have been self-serving and whiny, but wasn't. It's an enlightening look at the growing impotence of being in a situation about which you can do nothing - despite the obvious injustice of the actions taken against you. I hesitate to say that I enjoyed the book, but I found it interesting, revealing and enlightening.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For a biographical look at a career cut short by mental health issues we can recommend Nijinsky by Lucy Moore. For an autobiographical look at how schizophrenia affected a family have a look at The Sunlight on the Garden: A Family in Love, War and Madness by Elizabeth Speller.
You can read more book reviews or buy Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun at Amazon.com.
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