First of April is the only day of the year when people exercise healthy criticism when they peruse news: “Can this be true?” Otherwise it’s pretty much everything goes, thumbs up, poke, like and share. There are actual companies whose business rationale is based on checking and verifying how many times the POTUS has lied in public. What was once something one did not want to get caught doing, today is very much the modus operandi for many recent political movements, media outlets and influencers of various kinds. Liars have firmly established themselves amongst us, and their followers keep racking up the numbers.
I spotted the book Liar because of its cover. I like pink, and I like ice-cream. I didn’t know the author, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, but I proceeded with the purchase. So glad I did. What happens when your lie becomes the trigger for such an avalanche of events affecting so many people, that rectifying matters no longer becomes viable?
Set in Israel, the book tells the story of 17-year old Nofar who would like to spice up her teenage life, but is not quite sure how. Then a life-changing chain of events takes place in the ice-cream parlour where she works during the school recess, and she becomes a national celebrity overnight. Only her celeb-status is all based on a lie, or rather other people’s assumption she did not correct on time.
Things spiral out of control and it soon becomes evident to her that it is impossible to unscramble the scrambled eggs. And the fame feels delicious! The interviews, the attention, the free clothes, the sympathy! Her schoolmates’ interest! She’s finally someone!
So that we are not lured into thinking that it’s only young people who lie, an old woman is introduced to us, and she gets caught in a tangle of a big fat deceit herself. The characters, of course, meet in the book, but the older lady seems more like the side story to me.
The message: everybody lies, for various reasons. The characters in the book (there are more liars) either want to be loved or want to please, or to avoid confrontation, but all of them tell lies to each others or to themselves.
The other message is possibly that people are willing to believe an awful lot of horseshit. Mostly to reinforce their views of the world, to make it easier for them to make sense of the world or to feel that they belong in a group where everybody believes in the same thing.
Liar was a beautiful surprise. I liked the eerie suspense and the absence of the most obvious cliches. The book is scattered with unexpected examples and iterations. Such as this, when the accused man tried sarcasm in his interrogation (probably to impress the detective) “Yeah, I’m totally into making passes at pimply-faced sixteen-year-old girls!”
Sarcasm is a dangerous ally, much like the perfumed notepaper young girls buy: after a while the fragrance evaporates and only the paper remains. And in truth, in only a few hours the sarcasm had evaporated and only the confession remained.
Strong recommendation should you be interested in a literary anatomy of a liar.