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BOOKSHELF: Incidents in the Rue Laugier

It is the story of a continuing feeling of loss. That something which should have been there, isn?t there.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2006 13:05 IST

Incidents in the Rue Laugier
Anita Brookner
• Price — Rs 330
• Publication — Penguin

Having just finished reading Incidents in the Rue Laugier I have descended into a calm. A calm in which events detach from the string of prose that holds them and descends to the bottom.

The events negotiate the barriers of words and in a way form a gradual awakening of the real story. Or rather the implications of the author’s intentions. Anita Brookner is a Booker Prize winning novelist.

I find that a good way to select authors, since most of them reserve their touch and display them in subsequent works. Incidents in the Rue Laugier is the story of Maud and Edward Harrison.

It is the story of a continuing feeling of loss. That something which should have been there, isn’t there. The feeling of inadequacy is profoundly exhibited. The memory of stylish and irresponsible David Tyler is a fragrance that lingers on in the lives of Maud and Edward.

But perhaps the most fearful thing about the story is that many of us would identify with the characters. Usually that is a good thing, though not in this case. Our weaknesses, of what we are and most importantly what we are not, is dissolved in the characters.

Perhaps it is the emergence of a bitter truth, our own inadequacies, that will haunt us while we are submerged in the lines. The book isn’t quite so much about a story.

In fact, Incidents in the Rue Laugier is so much about thoughts and memories of a life. A reflection on the present and the state of affairs that is so unchangeable and mundane that it is frightening to even think of it. It is not the inevitability that scares.

It is the growing helplessness and resignation. Those looking for a grand story will be disappointed.

But even they will not be spared that dreadful realisation of an Achilles Heel. That deepening sigh of a vanquished life where there was never anything worth it.