Though this be madness yet there is method in it.
This quote from Shakespeare brings in focus the madness that follows in the novel fLy by M.Z.
As the name suggests the novel is seen from the perspective of a fly. The fly follows the lives of characters, Tristan and Hannah, Raymond and Fi. Their dysfunctional marriage in an urban set up is the standpoint of the entire story.
Tristan and Raymond are teachers. Tristan is married to Hannah and is childless. The society taints him by pointing at his impotence. Hannah on the other hand doesn’t want kids, is always on contraceptive pills (unbeknownst to her husband) and is anorexic. Raymond, on the other hand wants to be the patriarch of the family by making sure that he keeps his wife under control. He will be found talking about how infidelity isn’t macho but he has been “snogging” a colleague at school. This and much more add dimensions to the whole theme of infidelity.
If you look at it, it is just an everyday story but on a closer inspection you get to see the way author has handled the theme. The divorce cases that are on the rise is because we don’t want to work out on the “us” part, we have only been focusing on “you/I.” And to show it from the perspective of a fly, the one that thrives on stink and muck. One gets the picture why the author has used the perspective of a fly.
The language is flawlessly, grandeur as much as lucid. There are quotes from Shakespeare peppered across the plot. And then there are limip descriptions by the author which brings the picture alive.
“The long nasal hairs would wave like sea grass on a coral reef as his breath whistled through them and in the corners of his mouth little bubbles of gravy foam sat.”
The amount of hard work done on this novel is visible through such descriptions.
Add to that the author stresses on how the life comes full circle. The facts which led Tristan and Hannah drift apart from their parents are the ones that become imbibed in their characters unknowingly. Tristan’s fantasy for his pupil is much like Hannah’s father’s outlook towards her girl friends. And Hannah’s appetite for wine brings back the sickening sensation Tristan would get around his parents.
And then there are those spaces where homophobia is presented in the most sensitive and humourous ways, respectively; and on both the occasions it is Raymond, who pretends that he has an open mind towards homosexual relationships, is the one being brash about it.
Then there’s this focus on building real to life characters. Fi, Hannah, Tristan and Raymond are well presented caricatures. Fi is a submissive housewife who thinks too big a deal about hosting parties and barbeques.
“Fi glibly smiled to herself as she realised she had found a solution to a life-threatening situation. Can you see her now, “Is it a plane? Is it a bird? No it’s Super Fi, ” solving issues of magnitude, floating through the sky on a great big air-filled, eye bogey? Where would we all be without her? But moving on…”
She is so involved in solving the troubles brewing in others relationships that she completely takes hers for granted. She enjoys the trivialities that her life has to offer. This character reminded me a lot of Mrs. Dalloway from the book Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.
Raymond is yet another caricature who is so self involved that he times his masturbation while in bathroom! I mean….yuck! Who does that? Putting across these minor details from a fly’s POV won the game for the author.
Tristan doesn’t want to hurt his wife yet ends up being a lot like her father. He feels stuck up in the relationship. On oe level he seems like a sorted person to me. But come to think of it he reminded me of Humbert from Lolita.
Hannah’s character was just mindless wandering. She doesn’t socialize much. She is anorexic. (Yes, I know I have repeated this info.) Her sole confidant is Fi and her sole hang out place is Fi’s house apart from gym. She wants to keep her youth alive and even goes to the extent of anal bleaching after seeing an ad in a magazine!
Then there are minor characters like Sasha, Ana, Lisa, Dan, students to Tristan. Then there’s Peter Raymond’s brother and Justin. Bruno, Jean are some other characters spoken about in the novel.
The novel has 5 narrators overall – the fly, Hannah, Fi, Tristan and Raymond. Of course the dialogues spoken by Hannah, Fi, Tristan and Raymond that we read are as presented to us by the fly.
What I loved the most in this novel was you could see traces of best in literature. You could feel the anger against the characters, even sympathy. Humor and sarcasm were peppered at right paces and were a breather to me. I laughed myself to the way Raymond dresses up his wife in a toga just because he assumes that Hannah is a homo and might make a pass at his wife!
What I didn’t like about the novel? The cliff hanger! Uggh….I had assumed that some things will meet their end in the novel but author left it to our imagination.
And there were some spaces with unnecessary descriptions.
From an author’s perspective, it is one piece of hardwork put out bravely and confidently on part of the author.
I read this for #FemmeMarchFest readathon. Books by women authors and/or about women.
Publishers: The Book Guild Limited
Available on: Amazon