JOANNA KAVENNA INGLORIOUS

ISBN 13: 9780571232611

INGLORIOUS

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9780571232611: INGLORIOUS

When Rosa Lane, a promising young journalist, impulsively hits the send button on an email to her boss saying "I quit," so begins her pursuit of enlightenment in the jungles of cutthroat London. As she embarks upon her quest for a sense of purpose, she is deceived by her lover, surprised by her friends, turned out by her roommate, threatened by her bank manager, picked over by prospective employers, and tormented by all the bizarre expectations of the modern world. An erudite and darkly comic novel, brimming with lacerating wit and compassion, Inglorious is a truly engrossing character study of a woman walking the edge between self-destruction and self-discovery.

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About the Author:

JOANNA KAVENNA is the author of The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule. She has written for The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, and The Times Literary Supplement, among other publications.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

INGLORIOUS
RetreatShe began it on an ordinary summer's day when she found--quite in contravention of the orders of her boss--she was idling at the computer, kicking her heels and counting. Rosa Lane, thirty-five and several months, aware of an invisible stopwatch tolling her down, was counting the years, the hours spent sitting in offices, staring at the sky, at the flickering screen that was sending her blind. She had passed the previous ten years in a holding position, her legs locked under a table. She had typed a million emails and strained her wrists. She was no closer to understanding anything. Ahead she saw the future, draped in grey. Behind was the damp squib of her family's history. She was sitting in the present, with this past and future whirling around her. And outside the city was awash with daytime noise--the grind of traffic, blurred speech, elusive choirs. The noise was ebbing and rising again, and she heard the cries of birds in the eaves. She thought of the river moving and the flow of cars, smoke drifting across the shine and colour.Sitting at her desk that day, sweating into her shirt, she thought, If they told me I would never do anything more than this, would I want to live or die on the spot? Then she thought, What is the reason for it all, what is it for? That really cut her up, so she wrotean email to her boss. It was frank and elegiac. It began with her youth, early career, thanked him for his patronage, communicated her deepest regrets and ended with the words I resign. She was emphatic: she pressed Send, and then she shut down her computer. She picked up her hat and coat and walked. She was having a fit of nerves by the time she passed the guardians of the gate, the two fat porters who sat there trading jokes. They sauntered towards her. If they had spent another second rattling the keys she would have crumbled and begged them to lock her in forever. Then the gate swung open. "Leaving early," they chorused, and released her. Rosa went out onto the street, where the cars were queuing to go forward. Then she went home.It was a Monday in June when Rosa left her job. It was early afternoon, and she sat on the semi-empty train marvelling at the space, the available seats. She felt a gust of air as the doors swept shut. She stared at the adverts for phone cards and car insurance. Palliatives, she thought. She glanced at the passengers, barely noticing their distinctness. A less concentrated crowd but still part of the hordes. She laughed at an advert and picked her ear. A man caught her eye and she quickly dropped her gaze. She observed the dirt on the walls, she traced her fingers round the stains on the seats. She filed every detail of the carriage away.She was at Dante's mid-point, the centre of life, when she was supposed to garner knowledge and become wise. This was assuming she had used her earlier years for study and application, like the poet, but she had measured them out in weekend binges and European holidays. For years she had been productive at work and as idle as anything in the evenings. Time coursed along and she earned money. She stayed firmly in her box. She had been a journalist for years, sliding her way upwards. She wrote on the arts. She understood--it was quite plain to her--that she wasmeant to be ruled, not to rule. She hardly had the mettle for power play and the tyrannical control of fiefdoms. Her life had been supported by a few buttresses: belief in her job, the love of her parents, her relationship with Liam. These had stopped her thinking about anything too deeply.Yet recently she had been feeling dislocated. The death of her mother, in January, was the start of that. She understood it was a natural process, inevitable and unquestionable, but it knocked her off course and she couldn't right herself again. She went into work and was congratulated on her perseverance, but at night she was troubled by bad dreams, grief sweats, fear of the void, internal chaos that she tried to keep well buried, aware that her experience was general not exceptional and she really ought to button up. She missed her mother, of course, she felt the lack of her like a deep soundless blackness, and she thought it was impossible that this should be the natural condition of life. She felt as if a seismic shift had occurred; the ground had fallen away, revealing depths below, shapes clad in shadow.Her mind was casting out analogies, hints at a deeper complaint. She felt restless, and she had vivid dreams. Her thoughts held her, stopped her being useful. She lacked a defining metaphor, a sense of coherence. She felt coerced to the social pattern, her instincts dulled. She needed a local mythology, some sense of a reason why. Instead, she was teeming with frenzy and obscenity. She could curse her way home, damning the street and condemning the innocent and guilty alike. And she noticed that her sense of things was changing, it bemused her to think about it. Instead of seeing herself as the centre of her own small world, with the city as the backdrop to her life, she began to see everything as a fractured mess, a wild confusion of competing atoms, millions of people struggling to live. She lacked a doctrine, a prevailing call.She was surrounded by monomaniacs, yet she was indecisive. All ways looked as impassable as the others. She was in a labyrinth, lacking a ball of twine! Disoriented as anything, and she couldn't kneel and pray; she was sure that wouldn't help at all.In March, concerned about how detached she was feeling, she'd asked Liam to marry her. Liam said no, which shocked her profoundly. More than shocked, she was deeply offended. They flagged on for a few more months, but anyone could tell their relationship was holed below the waterline. There were days when she felt it all as dark comedy, bred of the absurd situation she found herself in. With the clock ticking, she was spending her indeterminate span of years on the underground, holding on tight to a metal pole, checking her emails, earning money and lining her belly. This sense of the ludicrous crept into her prose. In April she'd written an article on Swedish contemporary dance, which opened, "Dark, dark, dark we all go into the dark. The dancers have all gone under the hill." The editor had sauntered over to her desk, and demanded that she erase the offending lines on her computer. "Never," he said. "Never quote that crap again."By May she was writing in fragments. It was unfortunate, as her job was to write and explain, to produce quantities of lucid prose. Instead, she stared at the computer, with the bare notes of a story in her hand. Embarrassed, she wrote, "The Modernist Novel." After another hour she wrote, "Rosa Lane reports." Then it was lunchtime and she wrote, "If Lunch Be the Lunch of Love, Lunch On." Then later she wrote, "Shuffle Off" and "Mortal Coil" on two lines. Then she accidentally pressed Send and emailed her few phrases to her editor, who ignored them. Her focus seemed to be slipping. Where once she had read the paper every day, noting the preoccupations of society and her colleagues, now she flicked through a few pages and tossed the thing away. She was left withodd words--BLAME, WORSENS, REPRIEVE, SILENCE--and some images of a screaming mother, a model clad in satin, a bomb victim. None of it made any sense. Now she wrote, "I want. We want." And then she wrote, "What is it for?"There was an evening in late May when she found herself standing on a street--she wasn't entirely sure where she was--and then it seemed to her that the street was widening and widening and the numbers of buses and cars multiplying indefinitely, and there were rows and rows of people stretching eternally, and the ghosts of the dead vivid and clear in the dusk. "Too much now," she said out loud, attracting silent glances from the habitués around her. "Bloody hell there's a lot of us," she added. She reeled past the Albery eyeing the neon haze and the streetlights and the shadows seeping from the winding alleys. Then the crowds seemed to vanish altogether, and she thought of purse pinchers and long-gone hawkers, the flotsam of another era. She thought of them with their capes and cloaks and buckled shoes, and their hats and moustaches and the smell of the streets--dung and offal. They vanished too, and she imagined the city dead and gone, a fierce wind blasting across the earth. She shrugged that off, because it was making her worry. Because the buses looked teeming and drunk with weight she walked home. Three hours later, she arrived at her flat, grimy and sweating, talking quietly to herself.Leaving her job had a few immediate consequences. Peter the editor called her up, which had never happened before. Gravelly and disappointed he said, "What are you doing Rosa? Are you ill?" Not ill, she had explained. She told him she was fine. She wanted a change of direction. "Towards what?" he demanded. It was as if she had blasphemed in church. She thought of him, a holy confessor with a beard and a belly, in his office with a view of the street. He never went home before 10:00 p.m. He had awife and an assortment of children. A well-paid, powerful job. He lunched with politicians, artists, writers, contemporary sages and wide-eyed pundits; anyone he asked to lunch came along, talked to him with commitment. A good life, in his terms. "You've worked so hard to get to this point," he said. She thanked him, but she said she couldn't go back. "Ridiculous," he said. "Give me a call if you change your mind. Don't leave it too long."She said, "That's very kind.""Come on Rosa, give it another go." It sounded reasonable and she said she would think about it. She thanked him and then he was gone forever."Do you really want to squander everything?"--that was Grace's version, two days later. Grace--compassionate, withholding evidence--hectored her over a bottle of wine. A hectoring from Grace was no ordinary hectoring. It had sound and fury, high drama. Grace was truly dazzling...

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Joanna Kavenna
Verlag: Faber & Faber (2008)
ISBN 10: 0571232612 ISBN 13: 9780571232611
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Buchbeschreibung Faber & Faber, 2008. Paperback. Buchzustand: Near Fine. | B Format (7¾" x 5¼"). 273pp. | Nominated: John Llewellyn Rhys prize.No synopsis available. For more photos or information, use the «Ask Bookseller» button and I'll be pleased to help. The book is in stock and ships from the rustic nirvana of Peasedown St. John, near Bath, England from a long-established bookseller - guaranteed by my reputation and the UK Distance Selling Act. Remember! BUYING THIS BOOK means my Jack Russells get their supper! Condition :: Artikel-Nr. 162330

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