A decorative library

I’ve started reading The Great Gatsby for what may be the first time? I’m unsure. I read an article recently about certain books that everyone claims to have read, but not many really have, and Gatsby was one of them.

I always thought I read it in high-school, and always marked it off as ‘read’ in lists of classics people should read, but thinking about it, I can’t really remember anything about it other than some vague idea of there being a car crash in it. So! I’m reading (listening to) it again, to make doubly sure I can check it off that list.

First impressions are, sadly, not leaving much of an impression. It seems very uninteresting until, (just now) we reach the party at Gatsby’s house (at which there is indeed a car accident…)

Aside from the enigmatic Gatsby, something that happened during the party caught my mind

One drunken character is looking about Gatsby’s library, and is astounded that all the books are real. He pulls one off the shelf to show the narrator, and points out how it is an actual book. “Such attention to realism!” he says. At no point, it seems, does the idea that someone might want books for reading cross his mind. Appearing to be one who reads is all that matters. Even upon finding that the books are real, all he can think is that this is great dedication to being realistic, rather than that anyone might be actually be reading the books.

This reminds me, somehow, of the trend in furniture and decoration to look worn, while being brand new. Desks or end tables or dressers are painted so as to look scuffed and dented and used when they are brand new mass manufactured pieces. People want the appearance of history and use, without actually having to go through all the steps to get there.

And maybe people want the appearance of being well read, by having shelves stocked with all the right titles, without actually ever reading any of them…

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Meandering Thoughts

So… after the random rambling of Proust bored me, I decided to go for another book full of seemingly aimless thoughts, but this one is 100 times more interesting.

What makes it interesting? I think mainly because it is about things in the real world, interesting facts, thoughtful insights on people, places and things… instead of personal things about the writer, and the writer’s family. Because of that, it doesn’t come off as so self indulgent.

I’m enjoying it a lot so far!

Starting at the action

I’m listening to Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and the first sentence is him waking up as a giant insect. This is how stories should be told.

So many other writers, amateur or not, would write however many thousands of words about the day before it happened–but why waste time getting there? Since the story is about him as this creature, that’s where we start.

I love how to-the-point it is, with all aspects. Something to consider in my own writing…

Trial and error?

I’m still listening to The Trial, and it has less of an effect on my nerves now, and is more just absurd and confusing.

The law system the story is describing, is bizarre, and seems completely removed from reality, though it is a dark mirror of bureaucracies in general, I suppose. The character has no idea what he’s been charged with, and no one seems to even care. That bit of information seems not even to matter to anyone at all. The character has stopped even asking or thinking about it while he works his way through the court system trying to figure out how to get his case done with.

I find it a bit hard to identify with the character for this reason. Every new person he encounters who wants to help him with his case, the first thing out of my mouth would be ‘I have no idea what I’m even accused of!’ but it seems this point is taken for granted by everyone involved.

I am curious how this will end because everyone he’s encountered seems to think it out of the question he’ll be found innocent, and thinks it’s pointless to even try for that.

A trial on my nerves

I’ve started reading Franz Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ and just from the beginning am already feeling upset and unsettled. I think this book may not be for me, but I’ll continue for now.

I’ve heard this book described as both a funny satire, and an existential horror story. I’m wondering if this depends on the kind of person reading it. So far, it seems like a horror to me but I can see how it might be found funny.

Being completely helpless inside the giant bureaucratic machine we live in, is pretty horrific, when described this way. I feel my anxiety rising as I go through the story. I hope I can handle it.