I found Pursuit to be a genuinely intriguing read. It didn't quite throw me into an existential crisis (thank goodness!), but it certainly gave me some food for thought especially in terms of appreciating the happy life I was born into whilst others may not be so fortunate. Yet, regardless of background or story, this book reminds you throughout that it is in your hands to shape the life you want even in the torrent of difficult circumstances such as illnesses, death, missed opportunities, failure or even just ever-changing societal expectations. The big take-away that I got from this book, in short, was that though your childhood experiences (or even those of your younger years) may not have been ideal, your adult life can be. It's just that you have to be aware of a few unexpected setbacks along the way which come in a variety of forms.
In terms of narrative style, it is evident throughout that the author is a gifted storyteller - perhaps even philosophiser - who provides insight and analysis to every aspect of living that he discusses. Well written, entertaining, and provoking sophisticated thought, I also commend this book for not being a superfluously sugar-coated discussion of the burdens and joys of living. Instead, we are given a very realistic (yet not so depressing and existential that the reading itself becomes unpleasant and gloomy) and conscious conversation about important topics such as the wastefulness of war and conflict, social competitiveness, the value of education and self-awareness and how the fast-paced nature of the internet has metamorphosised our ways of learning forever, to name only a handful. My favourite part of this book is in its earliest pages where the author stresses the life-long challenges of forming an identity for oneself in a competitive world full of comparison. He talks about the unfairness of having to choose a life and career path (and thus adult identity) at such a young age, when your own body and mind are at a near-constant process of changing, still at their most vulnerable and influential. The parts focusing on the confusions of coming of age will certainly be relatable for many if not all, and the way in which the author gives his honesty reassures people that though society might expect them to have everything figured out by their early twenties, life is never straightforward and very rarely logical. This was a comfort to read, however the reader is also forced to acknowledge the seriousness and inevitability of conforming to certain social expectations, especially if one wishes to become employable or appear likeable at least.
‘The really important discoveries come through time and trial, in defining our own individual strengths, weaknesses and array of attributes’.
He then goes on to point out a sad reality that many do not actually have the time or resources to make these self-discoveries until so late in their life that it is too late or simply fruitless to ‘employ them to their most effective outcome’. This sort of talk definitely made me feel heavy and I craved optimism in parts of the books like this or even in the sad anecdotes about friends or people the author knows. Yet, if this book were filled with optimism, it would not have achieved its purpose in providing readers with a very real commentary on the inconsistencies of life and living.
In my final year of study as a Classical Studies undergraduate, I am a publishing hopeful with books on my mind. I spend most of my time studying the world of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, which I talk about on my Classics blog Itzanif. My second blog, FictionFrappucino is for my love of fiction.