never let me go

So I’ve just read (had read to me – audio book) Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go.”

It’s a rare foray into literary fiction for me; literary fiction often pisses me off for the pretentious, ignorant, showy way it deals with sex; the sex is always sick, deviant, dysfunctional, uncomfortable, boring, or perfunctory, where the sex in romance novels is deceptively ecstatic. (Which would you choose to read about for recreation, if you’re a sex educator who spends large chunks of her day thinking about the ways sex goes wrong?)

The title, “Never Let Me Go,” derives from a fictional song performed by a fictional torch singer. The lyrics of relevance are: “Oh baby, baby, never let me go.”

The main character has one interpretation of these lyrics, other characters have theirs, and I have my own. Mine is, of course, the best one.

Without giving too much away, I can tell you that the book is the history of some students at a school where they live all the time, parentless, familyless, with teachers (“guardians”) as their only adult caregivers.

In other words, it’s a HAVEN for attachment disorders.

Therefore when the main character, around age 13, listens to this song, “Never Let Me Go,” over and over again, and imagines herself holding a baby, ache you feel is for an early adolescent whose early attachment experiences made her necessarily avoidant.

Unsurprisingly, her first forays into sex follow an avoidant pattern: there are times when she just WANTS sex in an overwhelming way, she’s just STARVING for it and will go anywhere to get it. Well yeah. One thing she wants when she wants sex is the basic feeling of human connection. Which she’s desperate for.

It’s a beautiful book that lingers inside you after you’ve read it. I recommend it just on its own account. But if you’re interested in seeing what avoidant attachment looks like – especially its peculiar and seemingly paradoxical dynamic of wanting desperately to connect and at the same time not knowing how, not feeling safe, not being able to hold on it – and how that attachment style can enact itself in sexual decision-making, this is a superb illustration.