Monday, August 25, 2014

Reader's Diary #1065- Blessing Musariri: Eloquent Notes of Suicide

I've noticed a huge change in the narrative surrounding the recent suicide of Robin Williams from the suicide of Kurt Cobain back in 94. I remember a lot of anger directed at Cobain, whereas the once-usual accusations of selfishness that inevitably came up whenever someone committed suicide, the few that dared speak such an outdated outlook this time around have been forced to apologize.

I have to believe that name calling isn't helpful. Williams or Cobain aren't going to hear it. And those currently suffering through depression? I can only imagine that making them feel worse about themselves isn't the way to encourage them to seek help. "I'm so depressed that I think I might end it all. Can you help me doc?" "No! And get out of my office, you selfish piece of s*&%."

But I'm certainly not suggesting that animosity towards those that take their own lives isn't a normal reaction. The thing is, I'm not sure, nor is anyone else, what the right way to feel is. The living are left with so many questions, often unanswerable questions, that must gnaw at their being.

I bring you Blessing Mussari's "Eloquent Notes of Suicide," a short story that takes the form of an investigator's case file notes as he tries to determine what drove a sixteen year old girl to take her own life. He looks for clues and while he fixates on the fact that the girl had given up talking (the result of some traumatic event?) he doesn't find solid answers and becomes consumed with the case. There's a twist at the end but I'm not sure how I feel about it. I actually felt the story was provocative and poignant enough without it. The end was somewhat confusing and distracting. Maybe such is suicide.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

This does sound like a particularly timely story, which I will definitely come back to read. Especially since you have given your own quite eloquent thoughts on the subject.

Anonymous said...

It can be hard to write about suicide. Just finished Zukiswa Wanner's London Cape town Joburg, which begins with the suicide of a teenager. Thanks for the review. Will definitely read this short story.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: After living in Nunavut, where the suicide rate was disturbingly high in comparison to the rest of Canada, I find it hard to remember a time when I wouldn't have thought the story timely. But you're right, it was Robin Williams' recent suicide that made me write about it this time around.

Kinnareads: You know, when I try to remember suicides in literature, nothing immediately comes to mind. I wonder if there's not some avoidance there.