Book Club Edition

The Book of Other People.  Edited by Zadie Smith.

The book is comprised of short stories created by different authors – their quest simply to create a character.  The result is a series of glimpses into the lives of the boring, the insane, the trite, the bloody.  A recommended read.

The following is an excerpt from Hari Kunzru’s short story, Magda Mandela.

She’s standing on the top step, the lights of the house blazing behind her, a terrifying mash-up of the Venus of Willendorf and a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, making gestures with a beer can at the little knot of emergency service personnel gathered on the pavement below.

One of the younger and less experienced constables has obviously asked her to accompany him to a a place where, as an agent of the state, he will feel less exposed.  A police station, perhaps.  Or a hospital.  Anywhere that will tip the odds a little in his favour.  Magda has met this suggestion with the scorn it deserves.  She knows she outnumbers these fools.  YOU KNOW ME, she says.  Then, with a sinister leer, AND I KNOW YOU.

Being known by Magda is a messy and unavoidably carnal experience.  All of us neighbours are known by Magda.  Last time she knew me, she pushed me up against the side of my car.  I know you, she breathed huskily.  I knew I’d been known.


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