It’s along time since I’ve read a novel that’s actually made me want to write anything. Then along comes Alexander Maksik’s ‘You deserve nothing’
If I say the book is very philosophical (there is much discussion of Sartre and Camus) and delves into the very idea of what it means to be human, you may decide that sticking hot pins into your eyes is more desirable than reading it. Well you would be very wrong because the way these themes are handled by Maksik makes them easily understood and genuinely engaging.
The hero or should we really say un-hero of the book, Will Silver, is school teacher in a posh expat school in Paris whose passion for philosophy and literature helps instill a new found idealism into all but the most objectionable of his pupils.
Before you say ‘oh no…Dead Poets Society’ let me add that the author cleverly avoids making this go all mawkish and Robin Williams by exposing Silver as deeply flawed.
Here is a man who has abandoned his wife to come to the City of Lights and slept with one of his pupils, getting her pregnant in the process.
What’s more when he is asked to live up to the moral stance he takes in the classroom at an Anti-War Rally, his courage fails him.
Yet for all that we still love him because in the end we see that at least he tries.
He may fail in being a hero to his pupils but he succeeds in being much more than that – a human being.