How is Nabokov not everyone’s favorite author?

Just curious…

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The Great Gatsby. Still not sure if I read it.

Well, now I’ve finished it, but I still feel like I haven’t. I had a terrible time trying to pay attention to this one, but I think that was mostly the fault of the narrator. Jake Gyllenhaal (in a trend of having famous actors read classics) gives a dull, monotone reading that would put you to sleep if not for the constant, piercing s-whistles sprinkled throughout.

I already feel I’ll have to give this one yet another try, but next time I’ll be sure to do it in text form.

The parts that I could stay alert for were good, but anything can be boring when read in a tired, simple tone. It reminded me of a ninth grader being forced to read in front of their class, something they have no concept of or interest in understanding. Just words on a page, with no change in pace or rhythm, even when moving from describing a sunset to describing a deadly car crash.

The words will slide right off your brain into oblivion.

 

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…

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

A very powerful book that will change the way you think about migrants/refugees/the poor. I thought I had a socialist bent, I thought I was a person sensitive to these things. This book magnified my socialism/humanism by 100.

When we are divided out as millions of individuals, we are weak, and will be taken advantage of and abused by the powerful. If we stick together, take care of each other, stand up for each other, care for each other… we have the power.

It has been said a million times, but to hear it said is something other than really understanding it. And I think.. maybe I understand it now.

Conspiracies… :o

I’ve started reading Foucault’s Pendulum, which appears to be about a group of editors who create a conspiracy for fun, but then end up believing in it themselves.

I’m just at the beginning of it, but already the type of mind to create and believe in complicated conspiracies is captured very well in the narrator. He sees so many connections and patterns between such a variety of things, that it is easy to imagine the kinds of things he might dream up.

The kinds of people who believe in such things are very interesting to me. Any thing can be believed, no matter how few real life witnesses or evidence there is. The creative mind can shift reality to interpret input in whatever way is needed to propagate the chosen idea. But how does the original idea get chosen, when any one could be believed?

It must be some internal deep appeal of certain subjects…

Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald

 

Very few books I’ve read can hold so much power in so few words. The ending of this book, in the final paragraphs, performs a tying up of the whole novel that changes the light cast on all the previous pages. The Affirmation had a similar effect in its final page, but this one was, I think, much more powerful.

This novel doesn’t really have a plot, but in the end, you can see the story it is telling.

The title, Rings of Saturn, takes on a new meaning too, once you reach the end. Never in the book does he describe or mention Saturn’s rings, but if you think about what the rings are, you might get an idea of what this book is about.

Very highly recommended for anyone interested in history, interesting facts, and anyone not put off by plot-less storytelling.

Why do we hate the poor?

The plight of the Joads in this story makes me think of how we treat refugees, homeless people, and any other needy people in this country. The family in this story has been kicked off their farm by the corporation that owns it, and along with thousands of other families is fleeing across the country to California, where everyone has been told there is work to be had.

When they get there, though, everyone treats them like villains, looks down on them, tries to get them to move on, or just tries to exploit them for money or cheap labor.

It sounds really familiar to how we treat immigrants and refugees today. But in this story, the people even treat other American’s that way!

Why do we look down on people in need? Refugees and immigrants and homeless folk have gone through hell to get where they are, and then we spit on them and turn our backs. Why? Why do we put spikes on the ground so homeless cant sleep? Why do we remove all the benches from cities and kick people out of their tents and make it illegal to sleep in a car? They have it hard enough not having a home, but we’ve got to go out of our way to spend time and effort to make it worse for them? Is it human nature to be shit to each other? To distrust and hate someone who is at the worst, hardest point in their life?

Sometimes humanity disgusts me.