I Don’t Know How She Does It

22 01 2011

“I Don’t Know How She Does It” by Allison Pearson has been a drone so far. Agreed that it has a promising and relevant storyline but the narration made it such a bore. Barely touched 100 pages and nothing much happened by way of the story and I can’t help feeling despair at having to read 200 and odd more of them in order to complete the book. At this point, I wonder aloud what she could have filled those pages with. Undoubtedly with more and more of analogies – he looks like so-and-so in so-and-so movie; the expression on his face akin to so-and-so in goddamn so-and-so movie or a TV show and the like, calling on just about every commercial entity known to her or so it seemed to me. Gosh, it appears as if she had used such comparisons in almost every other sentence. My inability to make sense of them infuriates me to my wit’s end. Being a person from a country other than UK or USA, I believe it’s acceptable. It’s obvious that the author did not mean for people like me to read her book. What a shame!

Agreed that novels do include local elements – slang, cultural etc. but as far as I know it has always been in moderation. Even then, the presence of a glossary helps a lot. But using them in almost every other sentence is just outrageous. It’s so irritating that I had to scream out and hence this emergency blog post. I couldn’t possibly have waited until I finished the book before venting out my frustration.

I guess this is her way of trying to be funny but I strongly believe that this is such a mediocre way of doing so. I failed to derive any sort of amusement from such incomprehensible quips. She seemed to have concentrated more on playing with the words rather than to present a more engaging narration. This novel is about a busy working mom – Kate Reddy – struggling to juggle various responsibilities. I can see her plight as anything but funny. It beats me why this work is being considered as a comedy. Hilarious for those on the other side may be.

I can’t say I was exactly surprised to notice how alike Kate’s New Year Resolutions and mine (from the time when I used to work) are. Some of the common items from our lists include:

  • adjust work-life balance
  • spend more time with child(ren)
  • don’t take <husband> for granted
  • relaxing hobby??
  • Call friends

My work stress wasn’t anywhere near that of the protagonist, who is a hedge fund manager in one of the top companies, but still I had my share of problems and issues. I can perfectly understand the guilt factor involved – not being able to be a perfect mother and a perfect wife, the two most important and only roles that the centuries long male-dominated culture/society (in addition to the nature) has distilled into the minds of one and all. However awesome a career-oriented woman may be at work, she is forbidden the deserved satisfaction from life because she falters in the fulfillment of the two mighty roles. It’s a deep-rooted belief that career for a woman should always come after home, in the sense that it should only be a pastime rather than a major endeavor. A woman can do whatever she wants as long as the mother and wife roles do not suffer. But as is obvious, a woman isn’t left with much time on her hands in that case, not until the children are grown up. God knows how many more centuries it will take to change this perception. Whether such a change is needed in the first place, is a debate for another day.

One other current trend pointed out in the novel that prodded me to think more about is the maddening “drive for success”. The rat race starts right from the kindergarten and in a sense will not end as long as one lives. Needless to say, this adds complexity to life, but who is to do anything about it? Not that it is within the ability of any one person. Well, this is an omnipresent issue forever fretted about and discussed among just about everyone. Probing into the issue a little further, let me ask a question – Does success breed happiness? A plausible answer can be: It surely does, but only to certain extent (as we can see in the case of Kate Reddy, who is representative of a large group of people in the current times). Hmm, can’t argue with that. But putting it in another way, can one be happy without being successful?? It certainly is not easy but possible I guess, at least in theory. But is there a practical solution, which doesn’t involve embracing lunacy?

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