Isn’t the year going quickly?! It seems it was March thirty seconds ago and suddenly it’s well into May. I’ve cleared off my desk and deconstructed the last of my deadline stress nest. Mostly as my room had become a swirling vortex of loose pages of poetry, books, and empty sweet packets. Creativity thrive in chaos, so I hear, so I suppose I’ve cleaned up just to make a new stress nest.
Alice and the Fly is the fifteenth novel I have read this year. I’m kind of impressed, I’m also a little disturbed but I suppose somewhere down the line all of this reading is going to be important. This is a novel that I now entirely regret reading before bed. I actually had to start another novel as a pallet cleanser because this one, really got under my skin.
Alice and the Fly is about phobias, isolation, and the struggle to present a socially appropriate exterior. It follows Greg, who has a lisp and is having an difficult time at school, nicknamed ‘psycho’. He is gifted with an unfortunate family who are a little dysfunctional. As working class social climbers, Greg’s parents are unhappy within their marriage. Greg’s mother spends a lot of time redecorating the house, obsessing over her friendships with well moneyed families in the area. Greg’s father is mostly absent, and this absence is most often explained away with him ‘working’ regardless of the time he spends with his secretaries. Greg’s sister is obsessed with dancing and spends most of the time distanced from her brother.
Greg seems to exist as both part of his family and separate from it. He spends a lot of time as a bystander in the lives of his family and is somewhat detached from them. He spends a lot of time alone and seems to struggle during interactions. The novel structured as his journal, the majority of the narrative encourages the reader to riddle out what is wrong with Greg. There are clear flags that there is something very seriously wrong, he takes pills every day and there are transcripts from police interviews included throughout the novel. These transcripts really encourage curiosity and reveal more about Greg through the perception of others and without them I think the novel would’ve lost momentum.
I feel through reading this novel that I’ve actually spent a lot of time with Greg. He is quite a naive character and whether or not he understands his own condition is never really clear. I would like to think he has been informed, but I really can’t believe that he has been. I feel he is quite innocent really, not in a childlike Ray Bradbury way, more so in the way he has had all of this thrust upon him and he is doing his best given a limited grasp. And I really feel for him.
I think this novel really got into my head because of Greg and his condition being so central and so vivid. Where the majority of the characters push him aside, or simply pretend he is just ‘odd’. His obsessions and struggles to be socially acceptable are overwhelming. This is a novel of evidence also, the evidence to unravel a character, but it is more than that. Written in a journal form, the reader becomes Greg’s confidant when in reality Greg struggles to have a conversations.
Alice and the Fly, is so brilliantly written and so candid. Without a doubt a character who is simply trying to do his best. I would read this novel again, it is disturbing and not a bed time read but it does flag up the reality of mental illness. It flags up the reality of stigma and I have such empathy for Greg. There aren’t many novels that make me feel as if I want to reach in and give a character a big old hug, but this was one of them.