19 March 2018

Manhattan Beach Book Club: Week 3

One of the sections that struck me the most in these chapters was Anna's first sexual encounter. Egan describes how she would hide in a cellar with a neighbourhood boy and they would start to fool around. These sort of scenes seem to be common in works of fiction and they always make me feel sort of depressed.. The lack of communication around sex is upsetting. I mean she brought a RULER with her so she would have something to bite down on, how fucked up is that?

I did love the section where they are informed of all the possible side effects of deep sea diving, like the squeeze and the bends. This is the sort of information that simultaneously repulses me and fascinates me. Like I hate to read about blood coming out of eyes and ears, but also can't stop researching it. I also think Meg and I just love an opportunity to "worry" about something ... for example Meg took some pottery classes and started spending time in their workspace making plates, bowls, etc. and I got a phone call literally the second time she had ever stepped foot in the studio telling me she believes she has "potters' lung." So I will say I have been enjoying the book for the factual information about deep-sea diving and welding.

Then there is the constant sexism and condescension that goes on on the wharf ... I think Egan tackles this in a really great way, where it is really frustrating but also somewhat humourous. Here was the passage I thought represented both sentiments:

He took a long, patient breath. 'It is enormously taxing for the human body to perform underwater,' he said. 'I understand that may be hard to believe; you see the pretty waves, the nice sea foam. You like to swim. But it isn't like that underneath. Water is heavy. The pressure of that weight is something ferocious. We've no idea how the female body would react.'"

What I found so funny about this paragraph is that he patronizes her so hard saying "yes I know you think the sea is pretty but..", and yet we already know this is far from the case. Anna has so much respect for the sea, but she also has a deep fear of it (which I quoted in Week 1) and we know she would never underestimate the danger of the ocean.

I also thought it was hilarious that the instructor says he doesn't know how the FEMALE body would react ... as if a female body's anatomy and inner mechanisms are completely different from a man's. I would imagine the bends are the bends, man or woman.


  1. The stuff about Lydia made me feel really depressed this section. I want to know what her disease is... they didn't say yet did they? I know this is wrong to say but I would rather be dead than completely out of control of my entire body and just trapped in my own mind. They mention how she doesn't even talk anymore and I'm confident it's by choice. Why even bother? For some reason her and Anna remind me of the sisters in the TV series The Sinner which was extremely fucked and is making me feel uncomfortable about this book... Has anyone watched The Sinner? Do you know what I'm talking about?

    I also loved the same part as Meg where they call her bluff and have her put the suit on and are surprised to hear she wants to dive anyways... then this hilarious little part:

    "He was her enemy. It seemed to Anna now that she had always wanted one. She imagined the knot in her hands, the clenched aliveness of it. There was always a weakness, it was just a matter of finding it. Those are the facts. There were no facts. There was just him. One man. And not even a beard."

    Not even a beard is right Anna.

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