‘There isn’t a thing in the world worth fighting for except peace of mind’. All his books are autobiographical and interconnected between them, from ‘Tropic of Cancer’ and ‘Tropic of Capricorn’, to ‘Plexus’, ‘Sexus’ and lastly ‘Nexus’. All have the same main character, the same author, Henry Miller and his exhaustive struggle to become a known writer, despite the innumerable difficulties that seem to attack him from every angle. A childhood with a toxic mother, followed by a total incapacity to overcome poverty and finishing with a wife that possesses so many prisms and fake stories to every question that not even the same Miller can decipher.
Miller was extremely raw in his descriptions of sex, and applied the same rawness to himself, his wife and his friends. I dare to say that the plot between Miller and his wife, Mona, and the relationship with his parents, is what sustains this book. Mona is quite a character. She left her family very young, which is the only thing Miller knows about her. The why remains a mystery. It could have been her Jewish upbringing, or the rumours that one of her parents was abusive. The lies continue up to her education and even her profession. Was she really an actress? And her relationship with her friend Stacia was about friendship or love? The three lived together as Mona couldn’t stand staying away from her. It was a trio of lies and in best of cases only half-truths.
One day Mona and Stacia left to Paris, basically scaping from Miller. It was actually his dream to come to Europe to write. It was actually Mona who encouraged the dream. After a couple of months in which Miller sent money to sustain his wife and friend and one of other letter Mona decided to go back to New York, again with half and explanation to what happened to Stacia, erasing such important character all together from the book.
It is a minus what the author did to the character of Stacia, which also happened in several parts of the books with minor characters. Miller encountered people only for one chapter and even for a couple of pages, disappearing them after without too further logic. Even Mona suffers from this silence at the end of the book, disappearing from its concluding chapters only to show up on the last pages serving Miller a breakfast. I inferred that a lot of ideas where coming and going when writing the book and its organisation afterwards was out of the orthodox. This fact makes this book not apt or likeable to everyone.
His references to people of colour, and of Arab and Indian origin where sometimes racists and out of context.
It is important to highlight the positive parts of the book as well as the vocabulary managed by the author. His way of writing is marvellous. His thoughts and sentiments about life, love, friendship where pessimistic and at the same time fantastically philosophical. I did not identified myself with that black mirror in which he seemed to see himself and analyse life altogether, but I must accept that he certainly had a point. Of judges, for example —I retained this one as a lawyer myself—: ‘Imagine a man wasting his life defending or convicting others. The business of law is thoroughly insane’. I think he is right.
I would entirely read this book for its philosophical part, to enlighten myself as well with his struggles and final advice on writing and on life. Luz