The Crane Wife: why whining is not great art.

The Crane Wife
crane wife, literature, whiny bullshit
Hi! I’m a crane. Can you see my pain?

Every now and then, there’s a fuss about a piece of writing that… just isn’t all that. Remember Cat Person? Today’s topic of conversation/irritation/overhype is non-fiction, which is perhaps even more annoying. It’s a prolonged whine from some silly bitch who thinks she’s ever so original, important and profound, for having binned her boyfriend and gone on holiday and, you know, Learned Something. And she must be special and have all this insight, because this self-obsessed blubbing has got published in a Literary Magazine, rather than in Take A Break.

OK, to back up a bit: the end of a relationship can really hurt and, yes, it can make you feel that there is nothing in the world but this awful pain and rage and misery… and going on holiday can make you feel a bit better. It’s also true that being fairly comfortably off, fairly privileged, doesn’t mean you can’t experience loss, anguish, hurt or humiliation. Pain is not a competition, and the author of this utterly tiresome piece has the same right to sympathy as anyone else. From her friends, maybe. Of course people write about their pain, and find doing so helpful.  Being on the edges of the sex blogging community means I have read quite a few posts about grief, loss, loneliness, anxiety and despair. I would say a good half of them are written with a fuckton more grace, wisdom and kindness than The Crane Wife. This piece just ticks so many ‘Oh do fuck off, dear’ boxes. It’s utterly blinkered, almost certainly

crane wife
A crane that feels no pain

written by someone with no idea at all that not everyone is comfortably middle-class – or heterosexual; it panders hugely to the idea that women are dependent and desperate for ‘love’ and that this is a good thing, to be praised and indulged. Oh, and that hanging out with old people and Nature and stuff, and reading the Folk Tales Of Other Cultures will bring you enlightenment.

Quite a lot of people don’t get an ‘inspirational’ holiday when a relationship goes wrong: some might get a weekend in Magaluf and a cheer-up shag from a local waiter; some might have to settle for a girls’ night out, or bawling on a mate’s sofa and being fed relatively unlimited tea and biscuits. If you’ve got kids to look after, or a demanding job and no holiday left, you absolutely have to blow your nose and get on with life rather than pondering the importance of feelings and all of that. Try breaking up with a partner when to do so is going to mean homelessness, or deportation. Try breaking up with someone so abusive and dangerous that you have to change your identity and abandon everything you’ve ever known.

There have been millions of pieces along these lines over the past thirty years or so. We really don’t need any more.

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