A true story of obsessive love turning to obsessive hate, Give Me Everything You Have chronicles the author's strange and harrowing ordeal at the hands of a former student, a self-styled "verbal terrorist," who began trying, in her words, to "ruin him." Hate mail, online postings, and public accusations of plagiarism and sexual misconduct were her weapons of choice and, as with more conventional terrorist weapons, they proved remarkably difficult to combat.
James Lasdun's account, while terrifying, is told with compassion and humor, and brilliantly succeeds in turning a highly personal story into a profound meditation on subjects as varied as madness, race, Middle East politics, and the meaning of honor and reputation in the Internet age.
I first read this book back in 2013. I had a great deal of sympathy for the author, as I had four creepy men oozing their way around the outskirts of my life at that time and I was struggling to cope with the situation. Fortunately for me, none of them was nearly as persistent or proactive as the woman who troubled Mr. Lasdun.
On re-reading this volume, I was struck by two things. First, that the events in this book took place before we were really familiar with things like public shaming on the internet, revenge porn, and GamerGate and so many other attacks on people’s reputations in cyberspace. It’s taken a long time to get police interested in pursuing physical stalkers and their assistance has extremely mixed results, so I’m unsurprised that this author couldn’t get them effectively interested in his predicament.
Second, I have to point out that I don’t think this book wouldn’t have been deemed worthy of publishing if the author had been female. Women have to put up with this kind of behaviour with very little help from authorities on a regular basis. The reason that this book was “news” was because the victim was male and that character assassination on the internet was a new-ish thing.
I’m pleased to report that all four of the creepy men in my 2013 life are history. I don’t know where a single one of them is and I’m happy that way. Stalking is about power, having the power to make someone else’s life miserable while trying to get them to conform to some fantasy.
For observations on the stalking phenomenon, I would recommend Obsession by John E. Douglas (former FBI agent). For advice on keeping yourself safe, I would advise reading The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin De Becker.