Out, by Christine Brooke-Rose

What did I just read? I’m not quite sure.

At the end it became slightly intelligible that the POV character was of some higher or lower form of consciousness, and had a brain procedure performed on him. So that sheds a bit of light on the bizarre and confusing way this story was told.

One way to describe it is as a stream of consciousness of someone who is mentally unstable.

Some of the descriptions and ideas are quite beautiful and thoughtful, but they take a bit of work and thinking to figure out what the heck is being described sometimes.

Definitely not a book you can read without some effort, but I found the trouble to be worth it in the end.

Advertisements

is love just imagination?

I was listening to some classical music on my local classical station on the way in to work today, and one song was said to have been composed for a play about a sculpture who fell in love with his statue. After some googling, I think this is Pygmalion, in Greek mythology.

This made me wonder how one could fall in love with a statue. Can one really feel love just from how someone (or, thing) looks? Human’s have great imaginations though. We fall in love with people we haven’t even met by imagining personalities for them based on how they talk or smile or walk or laugh. I suppose it’s not much further a step to fall in love with a completely imagined person who you only know of from an image.

Any kind of love takes a bit of imagination, though… the way someone acts or talks or words they say can be taken many ways. Do we  interpret someones actions in a positive light because we love them, or do we love them because we choose to interpret their words and actions positively?

Maybe we imagine the things we love about real people, too…

Strange writing styles

I’ve started reading ‘Out’ by Christine Brooke-Rose. This one is described as an ‘experimental’ novel, and it certainly reads that way. The writing style is very strange so far, with repetitive descriptions of the surrounding environment, with characters left in a sort of confusing fog. I’m finding it very interesting, and enjoying how I have to sort of think and puzzle out what the heck is going on.

The focus often falls on the very small, while things that are probably important are ignored by the character. In the opening for example, he watches two flies ‘making love’ on his knee, while people are talking around him. Later he’s watching a square of light on the table, or thinking about how the way people are standing form different chemical bonds with their feet.

Some of it is so beautiful, and I feel that the writing is more important than the story for me these days, so I’m liking it a lot so far.

Ideas on how I want to write a future story are appearing…

You, you and you

Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco

This one was a bit of a trial. It took me several months to read because it got so bogged down in historical details that I don’t care about.

In this story, a group of editors decide to create their own conspiracy theory about the Templars in order to sell books. They go about it methodically, with lots of research, making connections between topics and events throughout history, all to support their idea. The problem is the author spends way too much effort detailing all these  historical events and facts and connections. Far beyond what it would take to convince the average reader that ‘yes, these editors are coming up with a believable theory.’

There is so much in the middle section of the book that I started skimming until I found anything actually happening to the characters, or any character thoughts. I ended up skimming probably 30-40% of this 600+ page book, that’s just how much historical babble there is.

That being said, the character stuff is really good and engaging and thoughtful and beautifully written, and the last 20% or so of the book pulled this back up from a two star, to a three star for me.

Highly recommended to historical nerds, or people interested in the Templars, or other secret societies of the occult. But otherwise, it might really tire you out.

Avoid the void

Learning not to read?