Tony Webster is a shallow douchebag.
First of all, let’s get something straight. I don’t believe people should be judged too harshly for behavior they exhibited in adolescence. That’s not to say that people are not responsible for actions they committed in their youth; it just means that their actions as teenagers do not necessarily reflect the kind of people they will become as adults. So my problem with Tony Webster isn’t that he was an asshole in high school. In fact, I’d probably be a bit hypocritical to judge him in that context because I might have been a asshole myself at that age. Maybe. But I can assure you I am not an asshole now
and if I’m to be judged on the kind of person I am, I’d like for that judgment to consider me only in my current adult state, please. No, the problem with Tony Webster has nothing to do with his high school self—it’s the fact that over the course of forty years, he has not changed one single bit
As Tony divulges the circumstances surrounding a pivotal juncture in his youth, he would have you believe that his best friend was a disloyal SOB, his girlfriend a Cutthroat Bitch
, and he perfectly justified in telling them both to fuck off. And perhaps he was. Again, that is not the problem I have with Tony Webster. Even that he holds on so tightly to warped memories as reasons for his past behavior (which are really justifications) is something I do not hold against him—we all do that to a certain extent. It’s called self-preservation. But where I start having issues with Tony is where he begins to dwell on these events and obsess over these people he hasn’t seen in decades in a way that is not normal or healthy. If his reasons were sincere, if he actually felt like he needed to atone for something, then I might understand. But that is not what he’s doing. No, he wants to ingratiate himself into these people’s lives, forty years later, just so they can be left with a positive impression of him! See, Tony might think he has you convinced he’s grown and matured into a considerate human person, but the only one he’s convinced is himself, because Tony is in fact the same self-serving bastard he was when he was fifteen. It does make you reconsider his life details in a new light, though: his failed marriage, the distant relationship he has with his daughter, his pathetic lack of friends. I mean it’s one thing to be an unreliable narrator, but here we have one who’s delusional, too.
History is not just the lies of the victors; it is also the self-delusions of the defeated.
The final straw for me was when he (view spoiler)[writes Veronica a “yo, my bad but call me if you need me” email. Yes, email. Because he’s a class guy now, right? And he considers this an appropriate form of closure? Seriously, Tony, go fuck yourself (hide spoiler)]
This book does present an interesting supposition, though—that past events are easier to understand from the historical perspective, the fact that one can see an event in its entirety, more objectively, and from various angles with the passage of time, which allows for a more accurate account of that event. In other words, it’s hard to maintain a clear perspective on something while in the thick of things. Although the narrator uses this to justify his own shallow behavior, I thought it was a pretty enlightening concept nonetheless.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>