The context in which we experience something affects how we feel about that thing. If I watch a romantic comedy I’ll feel way different about it if I’m with a girl at the cinema than if I watch it on my own at 4am on a Thursday while eating rice pudding straight out the tin. If I eat traditional Moroccan cuisine, it’s going to taste different – probably better – if I eat it in Morocco, even if it’s the exact same food that I eat in London.
That’s why I want to write about “The Fuck-Up” by Arthur Nersesian today. For the last few weeks, maybe even a month, everything has been going great. Too great, probably. And now I feel like I’m dealing with the come-down, even though nothing has particularly gone wrong yet. I’m just lethargic, apathetic towards everything and everyone, getting frustrated and pissed off at every little thing. It’s a complete coincidence that I’ve been reading “The Fuck-Up” and finishing it now when I’m feeling like this, but it’s a happy coincidence. One of those little quirks of fate that I can’t help but appreciate.
Nersesian’s début is about, unsurprisingly, a fuck-up, a guy whose life goes wrong at every point. He’s a guy who has the means to have a decent life but, for various reasons which I won’t give away, experiences a series of events none of us would envy, even if some of them are hilarious and, let’s just say, unconventional (posing as a gay guy to work in a porn theatre anyone?). He’s not a particularly sympathetic character – I certainly wouldn’t want to have him round as a dinner guest – but you can’t help but care about him. The writing style almost dares you to be genuinely sad – it’s raw, blunt, even disgusting; poetic, beautiful and poignant this ain’t. It’s not a book you’re supposed to cry at but I couldn’t help but feel a little sad at certain key moments. It’s a case of schadenfreude, I suppose, albeit schadenfreude for a fictional character.
If I read “The Fuck-Up” when I was perfectly happy with everything in my life, I might not have appreciated it so much. But because I’m feeling bored, unfulfilled, frustrated and miserable, the experiences of this anonymous slacker brought me some comfort. It’s a terrifically easy read, carefully presented, and a book worth revisiting for a bit of hilarious tragedy. It’s not something to drag you out of a bad patch though, more of a book that makes being miserable a teensy bit more bearable.
Right, I’m going back to Facebook to trim a few more “friends” because, no, posting “happy birthday” on my Wall doesn’t necessarily grant you friendship status, fucker. Not that I’m being passive aggressive or anything.