Title: Everyone Knows this is Nowhere
By: Alice Furse
Publisher: Burning Eye Books
Published: October 2014
In world where university puts students £30,000 plus in debt, Alice Furse’s novel about a disillusioned, newly graduated woman is startlingly relevant. Furse writes with the weary weight of personal experience about a young woman trapped in a mundane job, despite her intelligence and university degree. The tedium of the job drives her (the un-named protagonist) to try and discover some kind of meaning in her life. This slow realisation forms the start of her journey.
The protagonist’s romantic relationship with a man known only as “The Traffic Warden” is a metaphor throughout the novel for her internal struggle- their relationship wavers parallel to her psychological journey. As their relationship grew out of meeting at university, this aspect becomes especially poignant when Furse chooses to describe the absurdity of the current educational system. The Traffic Warden relationship is also a gauge for the journey of the protagonist towards a mature understanding of herself and the outside world. This extended metaphor is amplified by the symbolism of the protagonist’s dreams- she dreams repeatedly of feeling trapped in her soul destroying job and tedious relationship.
Don’t worry- there are no New Age style revelations in the book. Instead it is about finding contentment in the ordinary and moving forward towards larger goals at a steady pace. Furse’s focus is how the characters ARE as themselves. She manages a large cast and range of characters with detail and characteristics that anyone who has worked in an office will recognise.
This book is for anyone who has done a degree and quickly become disillusioned with life after it. And that is a pretty broad audience.