Decent into Disgrace
In the Showtime Television show The Affair Noah Holloway published a book called Decent. The book chronicles his decent in to debauchery and divorce. I couldn’t help be reminded of Coetzee book Disgrace, which was published in 1999. If anyone else has picked up on this parallel, I haven’t read anything about it yet.
In Disgrace the main character is a Literature Professor. Though the book takes place in South Africa and not New York/Montauk, there are a lot of similarities. David Laurie has an affair, which disgraces and humiliates him. Actually, he had many, but it was the last affair he had with a vulnerable student that gets him in trouble. Laurie is fired from his position and takes refuge at his lesbian daughter’s farm. I do not believe that Noah was fired from his job, but he seems to have abandoned it once his book took off. His daughter appeared to be straight and even got pregnant by Cole’s brother Scotty. But in last week’s episode, she was making out with a girlfriend of hers in a hot tub. So who knows?
Some of the show may be based on Coetzee himself, who is divorced and had a son die due to an accident. Although his son was 23 at the time and not a little boy, this loss affected him profoundly I am sure. Then His brother, Journalist David Coetzee also died. It seems Cole’s curse might have been inspired by Coetzee’s own.
The writers do certainly seem to be aware of the pop culture of literature while they are writing the show. They throw around names like Annie Zhang, Jonathan Frazen, James Frey and Sebastian Junger. Junger even made a cameo appearance on the show. It seems as some bestselling writers have managed to create enough controversy to be followed in the news like celebrities. Though we get to see rather personal moments in the character’s lives, we also get to see the affect that being a celebrity has on Noah. Certainly this is fitting given America’s obsession with Celebrities.
The decent into disgrace is all the more interesting when done in the public eye. Affairs happen every day, but they aren’t near as interesting when they happen exclusively behind closed doors. The celebrity status makes the affair and murder mystery all that more scintillating. Noah’s rise as a star writer and fall to murder suspect make his decent all that more dramatic.