I know it’s a total cliche, but I love love love love that moment when you’re reading a book and all of a sudden, there is the realization that, oh my god. This is me. This is totally me. I AM Anna Karenina. I AM the BFG.
But I love cliches. I loveeeee cliches. So every time I read a book I inevitably always try to relate to it. The only books that this hasn’t worked with are American Psycho and anything by Hemingway. This is a bone I have to pick with Hemingway and does not concern you (unless you believe that women are equal to men). Anyone who ever reads Hemingway and thinks he is the single voice of America in the 20th century, well, I have a bone to pick with you too.
Anyways, incidentally this week I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, one of the most gorgeous books I’ve read in awhile. It was one of those books that I saw everyone reading two years ago and therefore never bothered to get myself. But it caught my eye at the library the other day and since I loved Blood Meridian by the same author I figured I would give his most well-known book a spin.
It’s cold. Everything about the book is clenched teeth and hunched shoulder. The brutality of it is only comprable to that scene in White Fang when the wolf shatters the foreleg of his rival, who stumbles away into the woods on three paws. The dogs that trot after him, well, it was not until a great while later that I realized they were not loyal followers. They were scavengers.
Oh what a cold and cruel world we live in, and I, trying to fight my way through a system that disgusts me and abuses me, oh how I can make that world colder at times.
Which brings me to how this book relates to my highly important immediate circumstances. McCarthy stresses the perplexity of the world by combining words and phrases. He is an incredibly poetic author and its sometimes hard not to read him in sonnet form. But in some ways, the manipulation of language serves to cut the reader off from the text. When you have to stop reading to ponder what his latest portmanteau is, you have to disconnect from the story.
I have felt disconnected from my own story recently.
There’s a good chance that on most days I’m working three different jobs. One as a researcher, one as an editor/bookbinder (does that make it FOUR jobs?) and one as a… well, a person who does things to put bread on the table.
And where does that leave me? At the end of the day I’m usually exhausted, frustrated, and feeling like I’m not getting any closer to my goals than I should have been. The father and son in The Road are heading to the coast/south for…. reasons. Why? Because it’s the only way to go. But what’s there? They don’t know.
If I was in this novel I would probably be a part of a band of marauding travelers who isn’t sure if I’ll die tomorrow, but will do fifty things today to prolong it’s coming. And is that really the most efficient plan? I always used to think I was successful because I had a little bit of everything going on all at once.
Now, I’m not so sure.