Saturday, April 11, 2009

book review - The Interrogation

There is no point trying to pretend that the Nobel Prize awarded to J.M.G Le Clezio did not influence the purchase of this book. You always want to find out for yourself if the plaudits are worth it and so it was with a half open mind, you expect to be stirred by a Nobel winner, that I set out on the Interrogation.

In some respects it reminded me of The Stranger by Albert Camus because of the central figure's detached view of the world. But there is something here about the danger of solitude and the impact on the mind of someone who has time to delve deep into themselves.

As he walks around a seaside town Adam Pollo cuts n odd figure following dogs, putting himself into the mind of rats and living a life of sunbathing, thinking and begging money from his girlfriend. But nothing is ever clear. For instance did Adam desert from the army or end up being discharged because of a psychiatric problem? Then there is the relationship with his girlfriend. Did he rape/assault her or was that an exaggeration and a joke between them?

What is sure is that after deciding to stand up in the middle of the promenade and start sharing his views of the world he winds up in a mental hospital where he is dragged in front of a bunch of students for the interrogation to begin. They have made up their minds what is wrong with him but he shows them through his various opportunities to answer questions that not only is making judgements a difficult art but the power is in his own hands as to whether or not he pulls himself through.

He seems to decide that he is going to opt for a slow slide into a dream like state of embracing the institution of the hospital and those students that are questioning him for the most part seem unaware they are witnessing the moment when an individual decides to switch their mind onto a course set for a semi-vegetative state. What is disturbing is the message that the book implies about the consequences for individualism and the inability for society to cope or understand anyone different from the norm. Adam could try to make them understand but in the face of the futility of that he makes the sane choice and opts for winning the battle in his own head rather than in a room filled with medical students and doctors.

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