I was warned that this book causes severe existential depression. The warning was spot on.
This is a hauntingly beautiful story about a violinist who wanted to die. I couldn’t relate to the violinist at all, nor did I support his decision, but this book managed to take its emotional toll on me in other ways.
The graphic novel(la?) reeks of tragedy from the first few pages. It’s like being gradually consumed by a shroud of darkness. Yet, the panels showed artistic expression of the rarest kind. Someone compared the shifting of timelines to the shuffling of cards. It was pulled off masterfully.
The minor characters were easier to relate to. I found myself sympathizing with Irane, Nasser’s wife, Nasser’s brother, Nasser’s children, pretty much everyone except Nasser.
I loved Chicken With Plums because it reminds us that not everyone has a happy ending. A lot of books out there are so full of happy endings, that we begin to expect too much from life. We talk of love triangles, but what about the unrequited love triangles? What about broken dreams? Those are out there in the harsh world, waiting to ensnare our minds.
It’s very easy to be Nasser. To lie in your bed, wasting away your life, pushing away the ones you love, calling for death. But we need to reach for that inner strength.
CWP also reminded me very strongly of “Falling” a song David wrote at the age of 14. I wonder how he was able to fathom the idea of suicide at such a young age. If CWP had a song soulmate, it would be Falling. However, Falling has wisdom that Nasser Ali did not possess. David says
“I try to chase the memories away
But they haunt me everyday
I hope I get over this phase
'Cause I'm stuck inside this haze
All I need is a simple lift
Such a sweet and precious gift
So I don’t lose it all before
What I have left is nothing more
There could be something more
To what my life may have in store
I’ll move from where I began
Keep on pressing through to the end”