A writing teacher describes his years-long ordeal as the object of a former student’s hate-filled obsession
With its eerie, pristine prose, James Lasdun’s fiction distills the anxieties of contemporary life to their mythic core. In his remarkable 2002 novel, “The Horned Man,” an academic estranged from his wife goes quietly mad while serving on his college’s sexual harassment committee, imagining that the department’s most legendary womanizer is secretly living in his office and sabotaging his life. Take a writer like this, one who specializes in the surreal, inward spiraling of paranoia, and make him the target of a clever stalker: It sounds like the premise of a James Lasdun novel, right? However, “Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked,” Lasdun’s new book, is not a novel, but a memoir.
In the mid-2000s, Lasdun struck up a chatty email correspondence with a woman who had taken one of his graduate creative-writing workshops two years earlier. He remembered her work as exceptional, and the rough draft of the novel she sent impressed him, so he put her in touch with his agent and an editor who might help whip the draft into shape. Her novel, about an affluent Iranian family living in Tehran during the fall of the Shah, was autobiographical.