Seething in the Gordian knot: a view of 2015’s Man Booker-nominated novel, A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara.
A Little Life is a big book, a hefty tome of over 700 pages. But the length is important, because this is a story about pain, and stories about pain take time. What doctor hasn’t felt the competing pressures of already running late, an ever-filling waiting room, and the current patient just beginning to find a way to explain what hurts? Yanagihara gives Jude St Francis, her main character, plenty of time. Page by page, the reader enters an increasingly privileged relationship with this injured man. Very gradually we begin to understand that not only does Jude have wounds, he is a wound. Worse, he is a wound that cannot heal. The reader’s deepening access, over time, to Jude’s ‘little life’ (past and present) thus parallels the position of a doctor in a long-term doctor-patient relationship—except that as a reader it’s possible to put the book down for a while and take a break from the relentless suffering it describes. [Read more…]