is the thrillingly frank, sheet-tearingly honest and sometimes hilariously dark memoir of now 19-year-old Saskia. Brought up by two eccentric artist parents and the granddaughter of Drum founder Jim Bailey, Saskia grows up in an extraordinary home where a train station of wildly interesting local and international guests form the wallpaper of her childhood.
There’s Hugh Masekela, the creepy Chinese patron, the British High Commissioner and the real “Lady Jane” from the Rolling Stones song. Saskia observes the invasion of guests like a hungry voyeur, at times an ancient sage, at others a resentful, depressed-with-the-world hormonal teenager. She follows her father’s advice to “observe these people if you want to write”.
“It isn’t all bad though, I have met endless people I actually can go and stay with all over the world. Ex-addicts turned gay with daughters my age who are fatter than I am. Women who only wear pure gold and speak of their Jewish mother and Nazi father compassionately. I have given bath towels to couples who call Yoko “a bitch”... Ladies and Lords, artists with tattoos on their dicks... This sort of stuff makes my dad buzz in his little chair and practically shake. He gets very very excited about famous people, or anyone with an interesting enough story and despises ‘business pigs’. This is something I have inherited. I have always gotten wet for a juxtaposition too. As a result, I revel in the combinations around the table, often drunk political leaders from opposing sides who my father has invited to form a coalition.”
“Whatever” - the Millennial’s stock answer to everything, is not a coming of age book or a traditional memoir. It does not try to explore an entire life, inspire or educate but rather consists of 30 fragmentary chapters brilliantly embracing experiences and ideas that Bailey has on life, death, sex, white privilege, drugs, phones, the future, Plett Rage and being sick on a plane when leaving Bali.
“I wanted to write this book so that the decisions I’ve made so far in my life haven’t been for nothing, and that young people can read it and know they aren’t the only existential fuck ups in a generation being bred on dread for the future. Ironically, I don’t feel that Whatever is a book for teenagers because God forbid they decide to follow in my footsteps. I’d really like older and ordinary people to read it too, those who are interested in finding out what lies behind our much maligned generation’s brains when we’re not on our phones.”
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