Hi everyone! My name is Brian, and I’m from Ringwood, NJ. I’m sorry I missed the first part of this conversation, but I really enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts/interpretations.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the reliability of the narrator, specifically in regards to the people in Richard’s life. Paddy is essentially perfect, which is obviously how Richard sees her, and we get no real sense of her as a person, except through Richard’s lens. He is insulted at the idea that he can’t read a poem at her memorial, because to him (and to us), he was an important piece of her life. But we have no idea whether or not that’s true.
I found myself thinking a lot about the Twins, in part because not so long ago I was in their shoes, caring for a dying parent. I felt like a heel telling certain people that they couldn’t come visit my dad on certain days, or imploring folks to come see him before it was too late. I’m sure I came off like the Twins do here, self-interested or controlling. I know those are, perhaps, the two characters, aside from Terp, that you’re supposed to be least sympathetic towards, but I couldn’t help but attempt to see them outside of Richard’s perspective.
Re: Terp, I worry that the book is going to lean too hard into the ‘new technology/millennials/streaming services’ are bad approach, although clearly his ideas are awful and the idea of bowing to the whims of sponsors/networks is a bad one. I just find that it’s often too much of a binary conversation about new media.
The part of the book that I found both touching and disturbing was the idea of the imaginary daughter. On one hand, it’s a lovely way to live in a world where your pain and mistakes aren’t there to haunt you, but instead of Paddy’s advice being "do whatever you can to maintain a relationship, despite the distance, the hurt, etc,’ it was ‘retreat into your imagination.’ It seems to me that is a painfully selfish way to deal with the issue.
The daughter also reminded me of the ‘companion’ in the second half of The Last Temptation of Christ (leaving out her identity for those that haven’t read/seen that), though that may be an overly dark take.
Someone mentioned the references to the Struggles; I recently read Say Nothing, so I had a little context going into that which I wouldn’t necessarily have had six months ago. I think it’s too simplistic to view the Struggles as a metaphor for anything, really, but I think it is just reminding the reader that Paddy is quite literally from another time, a time when people were well read, when people fought for their freedom, etc. She represents the antithesis of today’s passivity.
Anyway, I really enjoyed this chat, and I look forward to part 2! Thanks for organizing this @esh!