One Hand Clapping is a book about many things – love, money, convictions, the world going to shit, marriage, luck, family, the search for happiness and much more. To be honest, I am a bit baffled after finishing it.
First of all, Burgess amazes me. This book is written out of the perspective of Janet, a young British every-day girl from a small town, she’s quite beautiful, although not the sharpest tool in the shed, but hey, who needs to know that Cuba is not a part of Africa, eh? Anyway, Burgess nails this perspective in every way through syntax, lexis, emotions and even perception if that makes any sense.
Secondly, I loved Burgess’ take on wealthiness and the life of the filthy rich, as Hemingway would surely call them. Howard (Janets husband) and Janet win the big money and from this point on, everything changes, because he is desperately trying to give his wife the kind of life he thinks that she wants. At one point, Howard (Janets husband) even sends her out to get her milk or mink, because he forgot what it was they were talking about and money doesn’t matter anyway. I especially love Burgess for making Janet realise fairly soon that money isn’t everything and spending a ton of it won’t make you happy.
Besides that point, there is also the very apparent theme of the ongoing Americanisation of Britain and I don’t want to know what Burgess would think of our world today in this regard. But I think this quote pretty much sums it up:
„I’ve nothing against Americans, and we‘ve seen them at first-hand for ourselves, but I don’t want to to see English people turned into second-hand Americans. But it’s not just that. It’s this spitting in the eye of everything we used to stand for.“
So, apparently, the world is not only going to shit right at this moment, but has been in a downward spiral ever since.
I have to admit, that some parts of One Hand Clapping were a bit tedious and empty, especially all this rambling about horse races, but overall it’s an enjoyable read, which can be appreciated on many different levels.