James Lasdun recounts being stalked via the Internet. But he shows his own blind spots, especially when his story turns toward Israel.
When someone crawls over Madonna‘s garden wall or breaks into Brad Pitt‘s house, it’s unpleasant but not unexpected: the price of fame, if also prosecutable. Imagine, though, if in the course of your everyday, nonfamous life someone emerged with a similar obsession. First they seemed affectionate, then convinced of a deep connection, then became furious and set upon destroying your life.
This is what happened to James Lasdun, a writer who has won a Guggenheim and taught at Princeton. Lasdun, a novelist and poet who has published two travelogues with his wife, has a solid if not high-profile career; he can put together a very fine sentence. Elegant writers are not often the subject of an obsessive and destructive campaign, but he was.
As he explains in “Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked,” one of his graduate students became a kind of a friend, and then things turned. She — he calls her Nasreen — eventually began sending dozens of emails a day, sometimes that many in a single hour, often full of anti-Semitic invectives. She waged an Internet campaign of untruths, including accusations of plagiarism left as Amazon book reviews and on his Wikipedia page. She repeated those accusations in letters sent to work colleagues and employers.
If this were a movie, next a family pet would be boiling on the stove — but Lasdun’s stalking was specifically Internet-bound. Nevertheless, it was nerve-racking, and he recounts his experiences with the still-fresh wounds of paranoia and fear it induced. READ MORE