Wednesday, 7 November 2012

October? More like DNF-tober. YEAH.

October wasn't the greatest reading month for me. I finished a reread of William Gibson's Pattern Recognition and DNF'd We Need to Talk About Kevin and Grapes of Wrath. Now, let me tell you why:

They bummed me the hell out.

Or, OK, the long version:

When it comes to Grapes, after 200-or-whatever pages of bleakity bleak from Steinbeck, I had to perform an emergency evacuation of myself from 1939 California. It was affecting my life, you guys. As for We Need to Talk About Kevin, it was sooooer overdue. I think it was coming at Grapes directly from Kevin that killed it. I can only take so much focus on characters I find fundamentally unlikeable (remind me to review Adam Davies' The Frog King for you guys sometime. Shuh-heesh). 


You are not as great as you think you are, characters.

In Kevin, as much of the internet has rightly pointed out, it's the mom. She is gratingly Proud and uses outrageously pretentious language and I will talk more about this when I've finished the book and can write a proper post. In Grapes, sure, it's the land owners, it's the Californian police, it's the pesky tractors, but most of all, it's Steinbeck. I'm having a hard time picking the book back up because I know he's just going to yell at me. He gives his call to action legs by making the reader feel terrible (whether it's class rage [which I think he'd prefer], or guilt [which he would take happily, thank you], or general The-World-is-Awful melancholy), and so, presumably, want to Make Change. This is a legitimate way to get things done, but it is also my least favourite. Give me rousing speeches and Hope for the Future any day.

I will eventually finish both of these problem children, Kevin and Grapes. Kevin obviously because I've gots to know what happened and whether my urge to punch the mom in the face ever lets up. Grapes, really, I'll finish because you've got to finish your vegetables. The book is Important, and I would like to have read it, if not to read it. I just need to distance myself from it for a bit so I'm not so annoyed with Steinbeck that I miss the parts that are beautifully written, despite the shouting.

Eaaaasy, Steinbeck.

10 comments:

  1. "I'm having a hard time picking the book back up because I know he's just going to yell at me"

    Ooh, accurate. But then you're done and you've read Grapes of Wrath! And can complain about it WITH KNOWLEDGE. Which is the best way.

    TODAY WE CELEBRATE OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY. <-- That's how I want to be yelled at. By Bill Pullman speaking into a walkie talkie type thing while aliens invade. OUTER SPACE aliens. Not Oklahoma aliens.

    I bought We Need to Talk About Kevin at an Indigo while drunk in Toronto. Plannin' on readin' that someday.

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    1. Yesss, I really want to have read Grapes of Wrath. I think I'll finish JPod, and then read Grapes at the same time as something else. This is the plan.

      Independence Day speech = best. rousing speech. ever.

      And no book bought while drunk has ever been a bad choice. But still, maybe read that one while we're reading Harry Potter in the new year.

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  2. There needs to be a warning on stuff like Grapes to tell you how you should probably read something happy and uplifting in between to keep from wanting to curl up in a corner and cry.

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    1. YEAH. Like a list of potential side effects or something. May cause crushing depression.

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  3. Let me warn you here and now about Kevin, because it gets so much worse. And not worse like, COME ON, EVA, NO ONE TALKS LIKE THAT, but worse like, Oh god, I have seen the dark side of humanity and it is dark indeed. What I'm saying is, it will make you feel ALL THE BAD FEELS. It's a very good novel in that it does exactly what it sets out to do, but a bad one in that what it sets out to do is harrow you.

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    1. Errrrg, why do you want to make us feel bad feels, novels? I'mma have to find a book where the main character is a unicorn or something. This is the next step here.

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    2. Peter S Beagle's The Last Unicorn. BAM. *drops mic*

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    3. AAAH! DID YOU SEE THAT MOVIE AS A KID??!?! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084237/

      That freaking thing scared the shit out of me when I was little. I remember thinking I saw the red bull in the bushes on my way home from school. I should probably watch/read it again as an adult. Probably less terrifying now.

      Also, well played, madam.

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  4. I wouldn't even worry about finishing Kevin. Only I couldn't have not finished it because I was like WTF IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHY DO I HATE YOU SO MUCH EVA?! But I'm good with never thinking about it again.

    You obviously have to finish Grapes though. I think that goes without saying.

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  5. Ugh, I'm trying to get through Kevin right now too! Except, this is the second time I'm reading it and I definitely liked it better the first time. Maybe it's cause I know what happens? I dunno - it just isn't having that *must devour this book in one sitting* feeling like it did the first time around. In fact, it's taking me WEEKS to read it this time. So in conclusion, I feel your pain, sista. But COME ON, finish Grapes!! :)

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