Saturday, January 23, 2010

Week 3: INTIMACY– Hanif Kureishi (128 pages)

This was a tough book to read. This story of Jay (the middle-aged narrator) and his decision to leave his longtime girlfriend and their two sons really got under my skin. It is a day in the life of this man as he makes plans and tries to justify the reason for his departure. The main issue for Jay is this: “You don’t stop loving someone just because you hate them.” He hates Susan but he loves the boys so much that it hurts. How will he reconcile this situation?
It is rare that I can so thoroughly enjoy a book when I find the protagonist to be utterly reprehensible with no redeeming features at all. There is nothing about Jay I like. He is self-absorbed, preening, spoiled and prone to fits of melancholy that are quite unattractive.

As he tells his story he relates to things in his past: his parents, favorite philosophers, drugs, women…all of these he uses as validations. He speaks with friends who are happily married and urges them to take different paths. He communes with a vile best friend, Victor, who has previously left his family and is wandering around looking for love to replace what he has lost and tries to repair the relationship that was broken when he left his kids.

The author does an excellent job of making Jay hateful and pitiable and on occasion, lovely (when interacting with his sons). I think that is what kept me entranced in this very short tome – that and curiosity. I truly wanted to discover how this was going to play out and what route Jay was going to take. I will not spoil the ending for potential readers but I would recommend this book.


  1. I have a couple more of his if you want to borrow them. :)

  2. It's super hard for me to like a book where the main character is so unlikeable too. Sounds like the writing is strong and that there's a good ending. Hmmmmm. I may have to look into this.