Monday, November 12, 2018

Books I Haven't Enjoyed

Now there's a catchy title.  Designed to draw you right in.  But I'm in the middle of one right now and I thought I'd share.  It's that, or finish the last 150 or so pages and prove to myself that I guessed the back story and the final scene after the crimes were established.

Actually, I predicted the last chapter when finished the first one.

Lisa Scottoline used to write mysteries with a hard edge. Her characters had grit, wisdom, and humor.  Their relationships were unusual.  With Feared, she's slipping closer and closer to the chick lit/romance side of pulp fiction.  How many times does she need to use her best friend before she'll believe that I understand the relationship.  I was on page 235 when I stopped to write to you; she's still not sure.

I rarely put a book down in the middle, so I plowed through Bill Clinton and James Patterson's co-authored opus.  Policy screeds are not what I'm looking for when I take one of JP's books off the library's shelves.  Self-indulgence was unattractive in real life, and it was unattractive in Mr. Clinton's contribution to this I-can't-believe-you-can-make-a-James-Patterson-book-boring tome.

And then there's A Tale of Two Cities, the book that had me questioning my junior high school education.  The Penguin Classic I took from Little Cuter's library to read on the plane, in Sedona, and finish on Douglas in  the late afternoon sunshine, that I haven't read this since 6th or 7th grade remembrance of things past, morphed into an Oh Dear GOD why did they assign this book to hormonal teenagers? rant of epic proportions.

Tis a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done.....

That inspired me.  The notion that there was something larger than the problems I faced, that I could do something bigger and more meaningful with my life, that I could matter.....  I took that to heart.

Madame DeFarge's knitting terrified me then and terrifies me now; I use bamboo or plastic, never metal needles.  Still, I remembered her as a powerful character, a woman of strength and righteous anger.  She was driving the action, and that impressed me.

I'm not sure I realized that she was motivated by personal rather than political motives.  I wonder if anyone asked me to consider it.  I'd forgotten the interweaving of families and traumas and I was surprised by a certain turn of events that purported to explain everything.

As if anything could explain everything.  Starting from the moment they encounter one another, the ill-fated hero and the sweet young thing have a this-can-only-end-badly relationship.  Everyone has secrets; he wears his on his sleeve.  The handsome wastrel..... what tween-age girl among us hasn't loved one?

I never imagined being Sydney Carton until last week.  It never occurred to me until I read the story as an adult. By the time the plane landed in Mesa, I found myself reading an ode to suicide.  I was appalled.

Who thought junior high kids needed to be drawn into a story that glorifies human sacrifice?  It will be worth it, the future will be better off without him, he'll be remembered as a savior not a sot, and she will be happy.  There was no better way to show that he cared, that he understood true love, even if it could never be his.

I remember a lot of history attached to the story in the classroom, but I don't know why.  The plot has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with a sense of worthlessness, of being un-anchored and alone, of longing and lusting from afar, hopelessly forlorn and, then able to make a noble gesture.

He could die.

There were pages of beautiful prose which made me smile.  But I put the book down feeling slimed.
Were we less evolved in 1964?  Is this an over-reaction?   Were some of my classmates attracted to the notion of self-sacrificing nobility?  I know that I wouldn't want to share this with any of the kids I know and love today.

1 comment:

  1. I stick to non-fiction these days and mostly oriented toward nature in some way or another. I've never been fond of mysteries with a few exceptions like Hillerman (his daughter's book with her photographer husband using pieces from some of his books with where they were set). I like history but don't read current political tomes that are all about winning a partisan view. I'd rather read about Teddy Roosevelt's life than what someone currently thinks of any political leader of today. I don't read books with violence and when I do read fiction, chick/crone lit work fine for me or a romance with nature in it. With fiction, I demand I will get a happy ending. Life has way way too many where that's not true and the newspapers prove that every day (and I do read them). I need feel good stuff and don't apologize for it. My own life has enough angst currently that I don't go looking for it elsewhere.


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