Saturday, September 6, 2014

"The Furies"

Natalie Haynes is a graduate of Cambridge University and an award-winning comedian, journalist, and broadcaster. She judged the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and was a judge for the final Orange Prize in 2012. Natalie is a regular panelist on BBC2’s Newsnight Review, Radio 4’s Saturday Review, and the long-running arts show, Front Row. She is a guest columnist for The Independent and The Guardian.

Haynes applied the Page 69 Test to The Furies, her first novel, and reported the following:
There are two narrators in The Furies: Alex, who is telling us what happened a year ago, at the same time as we are following her through the fall-out in the present day. And her story is intercut with a diary, written by one of the troubled students she teaches. Page 69 is a diary entry, and it is very representative of the book.

Firstly, we get a sense of the increasing obsession of the diary-writer, who is beginning to fixate on Alex: on where she is when she’s not in the classroom, and what the rest of her life is like. That’s a theme of the book: it is all about obsession and how that kind of monomania can lead us inexorably to all-out madness.

We get a sense that the diary-writer knows what she is doing is wrong – she makes excuses for the fact that she has been riffling through Alex’s desk to try and find out more about her. When you are making excuses to a diary, you know you’re heading down a dark path. But she’s not lost to us. She knows what she’s doing is wrong, and she tells us that she feels guilty: guilt and blame are also key themes of The Furies.

Here’s (some of) page 69, to prove it:
Yes, you read that right: I feel guilty. Because we gave our work in on Thursday morning. And I asked her when we would get it back. No-one else seemed interested, but I wanted to know. And Alex said she’d try to read them that evening and we could pick them up from her classroom the next day, even though we didn’t have a lesson.

So I thought she must be coming in on Fridays now. I figured whatever it was she used to do on Fridays was done, and now she would be at Rankeillor Street every day like the rest of us are.And so me and Carly went down to her room on the Friday – even though Carly had skipped the last lesson so didn’t have any work to get back – and she wasn’t there. It was weird being in there without her, actually. It looks exactly like it did last term. I mean, exactly: Alex hasn’t put up any posters or pictures, or anything. She doesn’t even have stuff on the desk or in the drawers or anything. Maybe I shouldn’t have been looking. But we wanted to know
Visit Natalie Haynes's website.

--Marshal Zeringue