Do you believe that there are normal people
"Normal People" by Sally Rooney : The ultimate novel hype at the moment
World famous at the age of 29, hailed in many exuberant reviews and referred to as the "salinger for the Snapchat generation", put on the reading lists by celebrities like Taylor Swift and Barack Obama - Sally Rooney is a hype phenomenon in millennial literature hence the translation of her second novel "Normal People".
It's about Marianne and Connell, who have been linked by a lurching romance since school. They hurt and they are fine. Again and again they separate, again and again they come together, and this deepens their friendship, their understanding for one another. The novel describes four years of her life, from 2011 to 2015.
However, the relationship has an initial wound that never fully heals. The attractive, sporty Connell is very popular at school in the western Irish provinces, while Marianne is the outsider who doesn't care much about her appearance and prefers to look after her inner life, for example by reading Proust.
The class discourse seems rather clichéd here
Connell is intrigued by her; but insists that their sexually fulfilling love affair be kept secret. It hurts Marianne even more that he does not choose her as a partner for the school prom.
The situation is reversed when studying literature at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne flourishes, her origins from a wealthy family have a beneficial effect.
Connell, on the other hand, is losing prestige. Nobody here knows what a popular guy he is, and his poor origins are now showing through: his clothes are sending the wrong signals, and things will soon be financially tight for him.
“Class” and the determination of biographies by the milieu of origin have again played an important role in literature for some time. Rooney moves in this discourse, but in "Normal People" it seems rather clichéd. Connell's single mother is a cleaning lady, but her heart is in the right place.
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Marianne's family, on the other hand, is rich and psychopathic. Her mother, a lawyer, hates her and is, inexplicably, convinced of the "frigid and unsympathetic personality of her daughter". Marianne's brother Alan also tortures her with his tortures, until Connell neutralizes the toxic guy in an unbelievable showdown scene.
Marianne's family drama results in her tendency to sadomasochism, not as a pleasurable game, but as a pathological desire to be beaten and humiliated. The novel gets a bland aftertaste from this unconvincingly staged motif, which was ridden by "Shades of Gray" into the cesspool of triviality.
That feelings are insecure and often mixed is an old truth and every generation is allowed to rediscover it. In the style of a new sensitivity that wants to feel more than describe, Rooney celebrates the emotional ambivalences. Marianne and Connell speak very gently and intimately to each other, which is why their dialogues are often read carefully.
Rooney is in the tradition of a Jane Austen
But behind all the feeling there are many uncertainties and imponderables. What do you really feel? How do you behave “correctly”? And what do you want anyway, in life and with each other? In the classic romance novel by Jane Austen, in whose tradition Rooney is, the "good marriage" was the goal.
There was strong social resistance and many misunderstandings that had to be overcome. Nowadays, of course, a hopeful marriage is no longer an option. And even if Rooney lets her characters labor on the imbalance of origin, serious obstacles for a literary couple are hardly to be gained from this today.
That leaves the misunderstandings that now have to shoulder the whole burden of the plot. Despite all the closeness and all declarations of love, Connell and Marianne are surprisingly strangers to each other at crucial moments. So their on-off relationship turns “off” again when Connell can no longer pay for his room in Dublin.
He would now like to move in with Marianne, with whom things are going very well again, but she doesn't understand his signals. Connell's resigned remark that he now has to return to the Carricklea home for a few months, she also misinterprets as a hint that he wants to break up with her. And reacts brusquely and irritably.
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Should one believe that two supposedly clever and sensitive lovers cannot communicate better about their needs? It's unlikely. But the narrator wants it that way, to keep this relationship in limbo. Such attacks of alienation occur even more often; sometimes in the middle of the most beautiful sex.
Constantly looking at the feelings eventually turns into staring into the abyss. The figures are worried that they could be ice cold inside: "It was like something from the freezer that was defrosted too quickly and melted everywhere on the outside, while the inner core was still frozen through."
This false emotional journey can be marketed very well
While this is an apt, even funny picture, the author does not shy away from crooked metaphors (“What was done to her then is buried in the earth of her body”) nor quasi-religious pathos (“He had decided to redeem her, she was redeemed ... ”) or something meaningful and meaningful (“ He gave her the gift of being a good person, and that belongs to her now ”).
Occasionally there are political hints that never get beyond the length of a Twitter speech.
It is said of Connell's mother: “It's true, Lorraine has values. She is interested in Cuba and the Palestinian liberation movement. ”In such passages,“ Normal People ”reads like a novel in“ easy language ”, with“ easy reflection ”. The descriptions of the physical also regularly fail.
Marianne's white meat is compared to a soft “flour dough”, which is meant positively. Or it is cheesy: "He touches her skin with his lips, and it feels sacred, like a shrine."
Connell becomes severely depressed after an old school friend kills himself. He walks through an inner desert and reappears on the other side as a budding young writer.
He struggles with the literary business, however: novels functioned there as “a fetish thanks to their ability to send educated people on false emotional journeys… Even if the author as such was a good person and even if his book was really sensitive, all books were ultimately considered to be Status symbols marketed. ”Everything about these sentences is platitude and wrong. They fit best on Rooney's novel itself. He sends his readers on a “false emotional journey” that can be marketed very well.
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