Lifted by the Great Nothing by Karim Dimechkie

LBTGN(Not discussed by the group but written in a personal capacity.)

Another group, one of whose members is Lebanese, recommended this.

I found it difficult to ‘get into’ this book until page 158 – over half way through.

There are oddly short chapters interspersing normal length chapters.

I found it rather creepy that a grown woman spooned an under-age teenage boy in bed and offered to teach him how to masturbate.

The book covers homosexuality, racism, identity politics, and immigration.

Max can’t be made happy by the treehouse and musical instruments his father offers, he recognises his father’s need and assures him – as sincerely as he is able – that he is indeed happy.

There’s lots of escapism: filled with scenes of drunkenness—Rodney and Kelly both precipitate confrontations while drunk, and young Max cultivates a secret taste for vodka.

Throughout “Lifted by the Great Nothing,” which follows Max’s adolescence, father and son are engaged in “this very awkward negotiation of how to be kind to each other,” Dimechkie said, leading them to lie to one another. “This book kind of deals with the question of when is a lie morally acceptable,” he added, and the damage even well-intentioned deception can leave behind. “When you realize you’ve been lied to it totally creates this bifurcated recollection of the past,” Dimechkie said. “It completely undercuts your memory. Something very precious is being taken from you — your personal narrative is being completely edited by the imposition of what was really going on that the time. So your memory gets sort of corrupted, it’s a very violating thing.”

For his own part, Dimechkie “discovered lying,” he said, around the age at which Max’s story begins. “Because I had a clean record up until then, I could just make stuff up and people would believe me. It was like a power I discovered,” he went on. “This might have gotten me into fiction, in some kind of indirect way.”

My family is good at telling lies too but this novel left me feeling dissatisfied.

LBTGN 2Quotations:

“Rasheed was a fixed entity, an unchanging, finished, permanent person, and the thought of teaching him anything was as unthinkable as training a turtle to sing. Turtles cannot sing and fathers cannot change. Neither fact demands alteration.”

“Her breath smelled of a mixture of white wine, rot, and babies’ heads.”

“The sun opened its eye and shot a beam across Beirut”

“cycle: everything at once and then great nothingness. All of life, and then all of death”

“On what standards did he base all his complicated lying?”

“Everyone in Lebanon has at least one maid,”

“Kelly was wise and sensitive only when it came to large groups of people or subjects”

“We don’t need culture or religion or things like this”?

understood that he had no choice but to be a boy,” especially in the eyes of women.

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