Thursday, March 30, 2006

Godfrey: May I be frank?
Irene: Is that your name?
Godfrey: No, my name is Godfrey.
Irene: Oh. Well, be Frank.

--My Man Godfrey

So I'm going to be Frank: I'm having a hard time with these posts from Jack and Odious. When I first read Pascal, I thought he was exactly right about the human urge to be distracted from wretchedness, but it's only recently that I've realized I don't have that urge. Oh, sure, there are times when I watch TV or read a mystery novel because I don't want to think about cleaning the house, but for the most part, if I'm wretched I'm just wretched (and everyone knows about it). My journal entries will certainly attest to my tendency towards self-flagellation, while my husband will attest to my tendency towards tackling problems the second they arise--in parking lots, bathrooms, hiking trails, and other random spots. I have an almost pathological fear of turning a blind eye to things that bother me, much to his dismay. Why is this? I don't know, but it's certainly linked to my often brutal honesty. I can't hide my feelings; I can't pretend things are okay when they're not; I can't spend very long being wretched. So I pour out all the things simmering in my head--to God, to Odious, to my mother, to my journal--and then, pretty much, I'm okay. And that's just the way I am. This, too, is the way I am, that I have to make sure to add the disclaimer that I don't think Jack and Odious are wrong, far from it--I just don't understand.

Okay, so now I'm going to stop being Frank and go back to being Godfrey--er, I mean Kate.

Mental Multivitamin linked to this list of books "every adult should read before they die". If you can get past the shocking grammar of that sentence, here's the list (I've read the ones in bold):

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bible
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

All Quiet on the Western Front by E M Remarque
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

Apparently I've got eight to go--not bad. Of course, I doubt I'll actually read those eight, other than All Quiet on the Western Front and possibly The Time Traveller's Wife because my mother recommended it. It's certainly a bizarre list, but then, librarians are an odd bunch. (I think I'm allowed to make that comment since I once was a librarian, or at least a library assistant. Anyway, no offense to Librarianne!)

And how I am doing on my own list? Well, I've gotten a bit distracted by reading at whim lately (mostly Elizabeth George, I must admit), but I think for three months' progress I'm doing pretty well. So far the best has been Death Comes To The Archbishop. I'm always surprised at how good Willa Cather's novels are, and I don't know why I should be--of the eight or so that I've read, there hasn't yet been a doozy. Her prose is clear and lucid and elegant, and her characters so thoughtfully created that they make me want to cry; I can't recommend her enough. I'd shied away from this book previously, for reasons lost to my memory, but I loved every word of the quietly good priest's life.

And finally, I've found some books that I REALLY want. I was reading The Old Schoolhouse homeschooling magazine at Borders today, and discovered this website and these lovely books illustrated by a homeschooler whose name is so familiar that I believe she was the friend of a friend years ago. At some point I will purchase at least one of her books, but I've had my splurge for today (no, not at Borders--at a restaurant supply store. I bought a pizza cutter, a fine mesh strainer, a pastry brush, and a rubber spatula--oh so exciting). Later, after a few more paychecks have rolled in...


Anna said...

You DEFINITELY need to read The Time Travellers Wife. It's really weird, but interesting. I don't remember if I've read The Alchemist, but I've read some of his other books and really enjoyed them.

Syd said...

I've read both posts and Larissa's and I tend to agree with you (not that I don't gravitate toward distraction--The Time Traveler's Wife is one of the best books I've ever read, ever). I too have a problem keeping my feelings to myself or not directly dealing with whatever comes up, as it does, in the instant that it happens. I'm learning to sit with my feelings more as I get older (read: more mature). Not as a method of avoiding the problem but more as a way to let it marinate and come to full to fruition before tackling it outside of myself.

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