Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Books You Hate, But Also Respect

Well hello there! It has been quite some time hasn't it. My sad absence was not intentional, but rather has been due to the loads of reading I've been assigned these first couple of weeks at college. Oh English Major problems. That being said the only books I have time to read are the ones assigned to me:( It will be a little while before I can get back to posting about the books that I actually derive some pleasure from reading, so bear with me and we will all make it to midterm break unscathed.

Strangely enough though the books that I've been reading thus far have sparked this post. I was in the middle of reading D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow for the second time and thinking to myself that it really doesn't get better on the second read. I REALLY don't like this book, but the intellectual discussion it sparks in class is really rather interesting. I ended up coming to the astounding conclusion that while I hate this book with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, I can't help but respect what Lawrence was trying to do with The Rainbow.

Let me first discuss why I really can't stand reading Lawrence's book. Throughout my life I and maybe even you have been conditioned to expect a few things from everything you read. Naturally I expect the book to have a discernible plotline; something that I can trace throughout the course of the novel. I also expect there to be a modicum of character description and development. I have to know the characters and be willing to go on their developmental journey with them. The character's thoughts, feelings, and actions also have to be believable and rational.

You would think that a novel without any sort of real plotline, irrational characters, and little to no character development would never be allowed to be published and should not in fact exist....well you are SO WRONG. This is exactly the description that I would give about The Rainbow. The plot (if that's what you would like to call it) is about following the Brangwen family through the generations. Each of the characters just sort of meanders their way through their lives without really developing in any sort of way. Oh and let's not forget the book is literally drowning in details about what twisted sexually deviant thoughts the characters are dealing with. When the author decides to get around to actual plot descriptions, they are pitifully sparse. Frequently a character's death with be dispatched in one sentence without any real description.

The relationships between the characters are also highly irrational and often uncomfortable to read at times. One moment a couple will feel intense passion for each other and then without any sort of justification are consumed with an intense hatred for each other. I'd rather not discuss at length the creepy father and daughter relationships that go on during the course of the novel. I would tell you to find out for yourself, but I wouldn't wish this book on even my worst enemy.

Now that I've ranted about the book that has made the past two weeks of my life torture, let me get on to discussing why after all that do I still manage to respect Lawrence. I can see that he was going for a different type of novel. His novel is not wrapped in plot points, but instead deals with the psychology of his characters. He tries to make the point to his audience though his weird characters that people have this unconscious center of their self that they really have no idea about and completely differs from who you are in your conscious mind. His characters are constantly wrestling with ideas of who they think they are without ever really coming to any concrete solution. Not to mention Lawrence deals with the conflict between the individual and society. As individuals we strive to have our own distinct identity separate from society around us, but in reality we can't help but be shaped by the world around us.

Lawrence also puts his imagery and allusions above a plotline as well. Peppered in all of the chapters is this recurring reference to Noah's Flood (heck even the title relates to that story). We constantly get the descriptions of characters feeling like they have endured a flood and come out somehow clearer minded...that is until they are exposed to the outside world again. This coincides with other post apocalyptical imagery. So yeah...pretty complicated stuff right.

Hopefully you see what I mean when I say that this just happens to be one of those books that I can't stand to read, but somehow manage to have some respect for what the author was trying to accomplish. I can hazard a guess and say that many of you have encountered the same feeling that I seem to be having. Was there a particular book that you thought of the moment you read the title of this post?

All I can say with certainty is I'm looking forward to writing my analytical paper on this book and then chucking it into some dark corner, where come December I'll happily sell it off to some poor soul who will be forced to read it next semester.

Well that's all I have for today, so until my next post try to read something fun for me and always remember to be totally awesome!!