Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing

THE LAUREATE: I’ll let Wikipedia do the talking.

WHAT I’M READING: The Good Terrorist, because blah blah blah post-9/11 world blah robble robbleREVIEW: When I was in college, I was briefly in a community service organization, real bunch of proto-lefties. One day, I was invited to a meeting. They were going to blow the lid off some serious corruption at the college, this organization funded and organized by the college. We spent about two hours debating and drinking orange juice before they decided what to do. We were going to print some leaflets at the college’s printer (the one that prints the school paper and magazine and all the little handbills for performances and whatnot), naturally for free because they are a student organization. These leaflets would describe the horrors the president of the university was indulging in. Then, we were going to put the leaflets IN the school magazines! On graduation weekend! That’ll show ’em! I walked out of that group and never looked back.

Much of the action of The Good Terrorist reminded me of my one brief moment of solidarity with the downtrodden and oppressed against the fascist pigs. Alice Mellings reclaims an abandoned house because the local housing board sent some guys in to make it unlivable! Then, she’s too tired to go with the other members of the Communist Centre Union living there to get kicked around by the police! They plant a car bomb that goes off and kills five people, then claim the IRA did it! Alice has issues with her parents, and also steals money from her father! Speaking of her parents, Alice’s mother summarizes the malaise that ’80s political activity had in Britain: she basically says people only go to demonstrations for fun, and if the police give ’em a kick, so much the better. Considering the information we get about Alice’s life, she certainly does have an awful lot of privilege to be able to run around cooking for bums in negotiated squatter houses and then move back in with her mother like nothing happened. Yeah, this feels a lot like post-60s America, only without the casual bombings or the expectation of providing anything for the poor.

RECOMMENDED: As infantilized as everything in The Good Terrorist was, it was still a good read.

WHAT’S NEXT: Next, I tackle Mikhail Sholokhov’s massive Quiet Flows the Don

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