I’m delighted to be taking part in the #Blogival Festival organised by Clink Street and today I have Doing Life in Paradise by Gary N. Lines as my featured book. Doing Life in Paradise was published on 8th February 2016 and is available in e-book and paperback here and can be ordered from all good bookshops.
Gary N. Lines has provided a fabulous guest blog all about Absurdism for inclusion on Linda’s Book Bag today.
Doing Life In Paradise
Ruby and Peter were nine years old when they witnessed the death of a classmate in a car accident on the Great Southern Road. Now in her early twenties, Ruby lives alone and craves to love and be loved. She wakes one day and decides to start a new career. She hopes this might be a beginning. Peter is a young successful architect but has already lost two great loves in his life – Ruby was one of them. Tommy drove the car that killed the young girl and now must go through life knowing he is a killer, and that he is at the mercy of the lethal disinterest of life’s coincidences and synchronicity. Despite the many differences in their lives today, Ruby, Peter, Tommy, Steve (Hawkey) and Peter’s mother Madeline, who also witnessed the accident, become inextricably linked by the ripple effect caused by the collision. Their stories become critical to their survival and escape, but how can life in Paradise feel anything but cruelly ironic, how can it not be anything but a life sentence?
What About Absurdism? What Does It Mean?
A Guest Blog by Gary N.Lines
Don’t have a fridge or a sofa. That way, when you drop something it won’t be able to roll under these things.
Before you eat your slice of bread with jam on top, throw it on the floor jam-side down; this will save a lot of time and give you a much-needed sense of control over your destiny.
Equally, always have two crisply laundered white shirts, so that you will have a spare when you spill your spaghetti sauce down the front of the first one, which you will do every time you are eating spaghetti and have a white shirt on.
It is absurd to try to define absurdism, since the essence of absurdism is that life is fundamentally meaningless and chaotic, and as such absurd, and thus undefinable. In my novel, Doing Life in Paradise, absurdism is exercised by suggesting that life is mostly just the disinterested combination of coincidence and synchronicity. Of course it isn’t. Or it might be, either way – which of course is again, absurd and meaningless.
These absurd accidents happen with such frequency that you begin to wonder if there isn’t after all some purpose to life, the purpose being to infuriate you, make your life just that much more difficult than it needs to be. Of course that’s absurd, if it weren’t so frustratingly annoying, it would be comical. I mean can’t the bread land bread side down just once? Can’t the dropped coin just once end up in the middle of the floor? Is it asking too much?
Douglas Adams the great postmodern absurdist in his novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy used the number ‘42’ as the answer to the biggest question of all. There are many elaborate, as well as simple explanations, as to why he came up with this particular number, but perhaps the over-riding reason might be that it is absurd to think you can reduce the ultimate question of the meaning of life to a number and in that regard, he might have thought it is as good an answer as any. Much like you could say ‘brown sauce’ is the answer, no matter what the question is, for all it matters. In Doing Life in Paradise, the number ‘42’ is imbedded throughout the narrative for the postmodern detectives amongst us.
Adams found himself in good company with other famous writers such as Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Martin Amis and Paul Auster to name but a handful who have found a rich vein of absurdism in life to inform their work.
Doing Life in Paradise discusses absurdism in many ways, not the least of which is the human dependence on hope. Many people try to hope their way through life, when this has yet to be shown to achieve anything beyond the emotion of disappointment. The characters in the novel do not in fact find any hope for their lives, until they realise that hoping is fundamentally a waste of time, and taking control of your life is the only way forward, and by and large comes with maturity and having one’s hopes dashed a few times. After a while you stop hoping your bread will land jam-side up, you know it won’t, so when it doesn’t, you laugh and get on with life and accept the absurdity with equanimity – you don’t take it personally, life doesn’t care that much about you, if at all.
About Gary N. Lines
Gary is a regular contributor to the Australian Financial Review, Australia’s premier business daily newspaper. He writes a column for the “Talking Points” section, which allows him to discuss everything from ‘Why we keep our books’ to Celebrity chefs and their proliferation in the world today. This section of the paper is intended to be informative and humorous.
Doing Life in Paradise, Gary’s debut novel, has received strong endorsement from reviewers as being a ‘precise’, ‘thoughtful’, ‘clever’ and ‘intriguing and highly original read’. The novel centres on a group of people all struggling to cope with the absurdity of life. Some make it, some don’t – everyone tries in their own way.
You can find out more by visiting Gary’s website.
The #Blogival festival is running for the whole of June and you can find out more with these other bloggers: