yesterday afternoon, when i finished reading Douglas Coupland’s Eleanor Rigby, i shut the book, curled into the fetal position and started to cry. a reaction that even surprised me a little bit. i cried, and i don’t want to give too much away, because there was a (albeit far-fetched) happy ending.
i needed this book to have a happy ending in the worst kind of way. i approached this latest Coupland novel with more than a little trepidation. the main character is an overweight 30something with red hair who suffers from debilitating loneliness. she lives by herself, supports herself, hangs with her family ocassionally, and doesn’t have any friends. sometimes it’s hard to read about things that hit a little too close to home.
i was this character about three years ago, well without the 20-year-old son that i gave up for adoption when i was 16 that suddenly appears in my life.
after reading Eleanor Rigby i think it might be my favorite Coupland novel ever. it’s not perfect, by any means. but it’s definitely his most approachable book so far. he tends to write about weird dreams to a distracting extent. while this does have some funky visions going on, they aren’t too hard to grasp. of course, i think it’s my favorite because i see so much of myself in the frumpy, cranky main character Liz Dunn. i like that she talks endlessly about her loneliness. it’s as though it consumes her whole life. i love her constant and utter loneliness. because at one point in my life, i too was consumed by it.
at one point in the book Liz tells us how she rates the loneliness and ponders whether it’s better to be alone or stuck in a bad relationship. i laughed when i read the passage, because i think it’s one of those things that all lonely people do. trying to convince themselves that it’s far more noble to alone than with someone for the wrong reasons.
it’s weird to be validated by a book, specifically a work of fiction. but after reading Eleanor Rigby i felt better about myself. in a way, i guess it sort of showed me how far i’ve come out of my shell, and sometimes (espeically now when i’m so perilously close to crawling back in) you need to be reminded of where you came from.