One Day...


Another day, another review... This time a book - "One Day" by David Nicholls. It's one of those "have you read" word of mouth hits, and follows on from his "Starter for Ten" which he then adapted into a successful screenplay. I have no doubt given the structure that this was always the intention for this one too (and given that he started as an actor, and became a screenwriter before becoming a novelist that is hardly surprising) and I see that the film is due for release in September this year (not July 15th - bad promotional trick missed there). It also follows on in that it touches on some of the issues raised in the previous novel/screenplay, especially the idea of the social interface/encounter made possible in university... but it moves the focus on to the post-university world, starting with the graduation of the main characters Emma and Dexter on 15th July 1988 in Edinburgh... and tracing their story by taking a snapshot of their lives on that single day for the next 20 years.
And that is where this book interfaces more closely with my experience than most, given that I graduated from Edinburgh on the 12th July 1989... One of my contemporaries in Edinburgh, a novelist has written a glowing review of it, cited on Amazon, and another acquaintance from that time in my life, now a TV producer, is one of those whom David Nicholls thanks for checking over his manuscript... I won't blame her for getting one of the opening details wrong however... she graduated from RSAMD and probably didn't realise that Edinburgh students do not graduate wearing mortarboards... Indeed we are all doffed with John Knox's trousers stretched over a wooden hoop (I jest not...). But more than this minor detail, I was frustrated in not learning how these 2 individuals actually met, as opposed to them ending up in bed together on this fateful day... If I had know that I perhaps might have felt more interest in their unfolding story... wondering whether their interwoven lives were ever going to properly and permanently synchronise... I had a sneaking suspicion about how it was all going to turn out from about half way through, but I won't spoil it for you if you don't know what happens...
I suppose this book has rung bells with a lot of people, particularly of my generation, as they whistfully look back on simpler days and the ways not travelled... And in a society where relationships are seemingly much more disposable, might there have been a better fit way back then? But taking that out of it, it does raise interesting and important questions about how our lives are interwoven with others... where those relationships are transparent and integrated into our wider lives that is a healthy thing, that grounds us, reminds us of where we've come from and should help us grow and develop with the years... but where it is an exclusive, introspective, private relationship, that can prevent us growing, causing us to become cut off from others and tied to a past that no longer defines who we are...
There are ways in which I relate to both of the lead characters in this book for different reasons... But thankfully I'm happy with the choices I've made in the years since graduation... And recent time reflecting on the past recently has only served to confirm that. But I am like Dexter in that after 5 years of living in Edinburgh, I never climbed Arthur's seat, and 22 years on I still haven't...

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