It took several years, but I finally got around to reading Slaughterhouse-Five. Whenever I would go to Half-Price books (and remember) I would look at the V section under Kurt Vonnegut. Never was there a copy of any of the books I wanted until one day… one crazy day where I went in with no thoughts of any books and walked out with an armload… I found not one, not two, but all THREE of the Vonnegut books I was looking to read.
And so it goes.
I spent half of Slaughterhouse-Five reminiscing about my day spent in Dresden in 2010. It’s been completely rebuilt– a gorgeous city once more. I tried to take what I had seen of modern day Dresden and use it when they talked of the bombing in the novel. I wasn’t able to, too much.
And so it goes.
Slaughterhouse-Five is an anti-war novel. It’s about a time traveling man and his life, especially concerning WWII. Some of the experiences, if I remember correctly, are based on Vonnegut’s own. (Wiki confirms). It’s an interesting read; a bit confusing at times, but it’s sci-fi fiction.
It’s how it goes.
What is it that draws me to the books where life pretty much sucks and, after being bored and unsatisfied, you find yourself stepping out of society and being screwed? I seem to read those books a lot, when I think about it. Right before the end of 2011, I continued with my trend to become even more disillusioned– seriously, you should see my mood swings right now: they are BAD and often involve me getting frustrated of my place in life that I want to throw things– and read Albert Camus’ The Stranger.
It was a simple read, a quick read. He goes with a girl, but doesn’t love her. Works at a job that he’s not really satisfied in but doesn’t care enough to do anything about it. Has a mother, but doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about her. He basically is an empty shell, going through motions. It sounds oddly familiar.
I’m not an empty shell– not yet at least– but I can see why people do it. This constant inner fight is exhausting. I squelch it all down and it seeps back up. I try to get it all out and I’m working on squeezing it out for hours. And then I wake up thinking about life and everything is so busy in my mind that I cannot settle. My dreams will not settle. My mind yells to get up and I do. Groggily, I glare at the world. This is becoming a daily routine and it, frankly, sucks.
I sometimes just want to curl up and, as Billy Joel says, “Forget about life for awhile.”
And then I come to realize I don’t think I even know the main character’s name in The Stranger. And it, as Wikipedia has just informed me, is Meursault. This is what happens when the book is first person and you get so entwined with their thoughts. As the days pass, I can’t always tell you the names of an important character, but I can tell you the emotions he felt or I felt. And that is always the lasting impression: not the names, not faces, but how we felt.
Including writing a cheesy fanfic-like story. If I didn’t know Voltaire’s Candide was satire, this book would not have been finished.
But alas, I excused the cheesiness of the characters and the plot and let out more than a few laughs. I don’t really know much about the time that Voltaire was satirizing, so I cannot really comment on anything to do with that. But I can say that the few notes the translator/editor person gave that discussed how Voltaire basically took his enemies names and put them in not-so-flattering characters… Man, I wish I had the guts to do that (though it probably doesn’t help that the US is a sue-happy nation where even a hint of libel and you lose your arm, your leg, and your last pair of clean pants).
Who says we can’t put money on happiness? Those who sue seem to think we can. Voltaire, you lucked out in that regard. In other ways, not so much.
And what is it with all the books I’m reading lately where people suddenly realize they don’t actually love the person? I know that’s real life but geez… I’m already getting a healthy enough dose of it!
I lost a few files. I missed the fact that Kim Jong-Il died until about a week after the fact (my friend’s response: YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT?) and I was swimming in the stress of computer trouble, job trouble, and holidays. Oh holidays…
That should sufficiently explain my disappearance. Except, maybe I shouldn’t have said it right now and should have made Sherlock Holmes figure it all out for me. He does solve enough to have a book entitled The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. And *SPOILER ALERT* he dies. But don’t worry. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle bowed to pressure and he was resurrected. I just haven’t gotten that far yet.
So yes, Holmes is still a pompous ass, but he’s getting better! He’s had failed cases on his conscience; peoples’ deaths on his conscience, and in a previous volume, he was outsmarted by a woman. And oh, how I laughed.
And now, thanks to Sherlock Holmes, I have solved another non-mystery. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime? The title to that book can be found in a line in one of the first stories (I’m unsure of which and my copy isn’t near me) in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
And better updates coming soon! I promise!
Or just walking a lot, sleeping a lot, and finding myself in uncommon social situations. Because that is my life.
Next update from this summer please! And it is…*cliched fake drumroll*… The Longest Journey by E. M. Forster. And let me say, I love me some E. M. Forster. Really, I do! But this book… Man, it was his worst and I was very… unsettled.
Without giving it away, can I just say WTF? to that ending? That is all.
So I had this book in my suitcase this summer as one of the ones to read at camp. One of my friends needed a book; I lent it to her not having read it first. Told her I loved Forster. She read it, said it was interesting. I read it and was like: “WHAT?”
I don’t think it’s Forster’s finest work, especially not after Room with a View, Passage to India, and Howard’s End. I was pretty disappointed by it, especially that ending. I was also bummed as it’s the last Forster novel I own right now, and so it’s a bad feeling to end on for one of your literary loves.
I don’t think I can say this enough: Forster, you disappointed me. There were some good parts, but… I just am not a fan of that ending. I know you’re a realist, and deal with the commonfolk, and that’s why I love you. But that ending…
I miss my fellow book geeks. I loved just having random book (and Disney) conversation with people throughout the summer. Now I’m stuck spending $150 at Borders and going between trance stages of thinking and stages of wanting to bounce ideas off of people when no one who would understand is around.
This is why I need to start going to bed earlier. I’m cursed as a night owl as that’s when all the thoughts come. But that’s beside the point. Right now, I need to update on books I read this summer. If only I could remember what they were…
Ah ha! My handy dandy list (that second glass of wine was really a bad idea in retrospect; I’m nowhere near tipsy; I just wasn’t feeling too well before the wine…) has informed me that I need to write about the latest editions of the Pompous Ass. Okay, to be fair, he’s not as much of a pompous ass. I’m in a better mood with him now.
And no, I don’t remember what happened in any of those short stories. What I do remember is sitting in the hall of the cabin, waiting until midnight in case any campers needed anything, and reading by the light of the bathroom since it was brighter than my flashlight. So I can tell you all about reading it, just not what I read. I should really look that up as I ramble continuously.
Oh yes. This book. The one where Holmes gets his pride ruined at least twice. That’s why I no longer think him a pompous ass. It all begins to make sense. I will have to run around singing “I can see clearly now the ego is gone… I can see the hubris from miles away….” I really should go to bed.
But I’m not going to. I have Harry Potter to think about and a new book that parallels Twilight – but with intelligence! It correctly used nauseated– to read. So, back to Holmes.
He got beat by a woman. And I laughed. And then he got outsmarted by a criminal and let a man die. And I was sad. And then I realized that I must think like Holmes because Watson was annoying me and I was solving the mysteries way before they were revealed. Sort of like with The Mentalist. Patrick Jane, I am on to you.
I’m dog sitting, and the dog doesn’t seem amused by music choice/attempts at singing. He keeps staring at me like I’m crazy. He glared at me for getting him up at 11:45 am, when he went to bed at 9 pm. You know, lazy bum. But that’s why I love him.
Anyway. On point now. I read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. I didn’t read it in High school. And I’m glad I did not: reading books in classes can oft times ruin them. I know there were parts of the book I was enthralled with and thought “Why does everyone hate this book? Wait. Hate’s too soft a word. Loathe. Why does everyone LOATHE this book?” And then I’d hit a rough patch– like the entire prologue– and I’d understand. Hawthorne can get a bit… wordy at times. Also, it can be hard to understand that English. It’s only been 250 or so years, but it’s changed. I’m just used to reading Jane Austen and other 18th – 19th century novels, so I guess it doesn’t bother me as much. But the writing style then is so much different than the books nowadays. Probably why I enjoy the older books so much.
And now I’m rambling about writing styles. I’m sure you all– who has read this far– are staring at the page, riveted. What else can she say about writing styles? you are probably (not) wondering. Well… I’ll save you that for another discussion.
Right now, most everyone knows The Scarlet Letter because of Taylor Swift’s song, Love Story. And let’s just say, more than one person– just about everyone– who references her use of the book in that song says, “You know, I don’t think she’s actually read the book.” And yeah, I can see where they are coming from as she is singing about a love story, and the Scarlet Letter stands for Adultery. Kind of contradictory there. But at the same time, I can see her point of view, too. A Scarlet Letter is basically banishing you from society, making you an untouchable. To the guy she’s singing about, she is an untouchable, though to be technical, it would make more sense if he were (wore) the Scarlet Letter.
I’m so very much on topic in this post.
To sum: Much of modern culture incorrectly references the classics*. No one reads the classics (except for crazy girls named Ikkalee). Everyone just says they do.
But I love them anyway.
*And yes, that includes Romeo and Juliet.