Posts tagged: literature
I woke up with no voice, so of course it’s a good idea to record.
A Momentary Reflection (For Kevin)
Some things are meant to change. Actually, all things are meant to change. By the very nature of time, everything is in constant fluid movement until it stops moving. The paradox is that we are not around to see it stop changing. It ends and we are…
Inside our generation, in each of us, there is the hipster. A creature steeped in irony unsure of who he is, what he stands for, he sways to the road less traveled just because it is less traveled, she is on the cutting edge to be on the cutting edge even if she doesn’t understand what the cutting edge means.
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
One of my top two syndicated comics of all time. Calvin and Hobbes is all at once philosophical, funny, bittersweet, and heartwarming. Calvin the outcast is the unsung hero in comics; the boy everyone ignores.
It is a comic of stripped down characters and it lets lofty ideas and story lines get the better of it. It speaks to human nature as the beautiful, horrific and chaotic thing that it is and it holds nothing back.
In the end we are left to wonder what happens to Calvin; or better yet the Calvin in us. Bill Watterson worked on the strip from 1985 until 1995 stepping out of the business on a high note and leaving us with a pure gold comic strip.
Everyone has a piece of Calvin in them somewhere and that is why he is so important. He asks the questions and he pushes against all reason. He likes to see what happens when things are pushed over the edge and he also wants to see a baby raccoon survive. He is the best and worst of humanity in the body of an unapologetic kid just trying to figure out the world.
Aren’t we all.
I started reading some Thomas Wolfe.
The Rum Diary
Hunter S. Thompson
Began in 1958 (published in 1998)
On a bootleg bookshelf in Ho Chi Minh City I went to move a book to look at some titles underneath. You see, they were layered slightly overlapping binding over the pages of the book under it.
Needless to say, I created a domino type effect that made the entire row fall.
The first book that caught my eye was The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson. Now rewind to 2009. I was in Peru on a volunteer trip for two weeks with a group from Keene State College. It was early morning and I was looking through books on a shelf in the common room of our hostel in Lima. And what did I pick up and begin reading somewhere in the middle? The Rum Diary.
Fast forward. I am back in Vietnam. This time I am on a boat snorkeling. We have finished lunch and the boat is heading back to the island. A German man I finished the last of the watermelon with is sitting in a chair on the upper deck. What is he reading? The Rum Diary.
Now back to the bootleg bookstore. As a perturbed shop owner helped me clean up the books I held onto Hunter S. and I bought him.
The book was a bootleg. Completely photocopied and $2 (40.000 dong), but part of me wondered if that sort of anarchy suited Hunter S. Thompson and that he’d overlook his estate on Earth not making any money off my purchase.
I think he approved.
So I read it.
Here is a review:
The Rum Diary deals with a paradise or what should have been a paradise, but was somehow not. San Juan, Puerto Rico is Paul Kemp’s destination. He is a young journalist in his mid-twenties already disenfranchised with what he has done with his life. In a sentiment that I can understand, he feels that his time for greatness has past.
He leaves for Puerto Rico to write for a fledgling English newspaper in the city of San Juan. In the midst of ocean, palm trees, and beautiful beaches; Kemp never finds his satisfaction and his journey in the novel is one of constant restlessness. That search for a greatness that never falls into your lap.
It is the ultimate arrested Odyssey, the isolated island where Kemp can find no rest.
The novel is a beauty. It captures that nagging voice in all of us that is disillusioned in our youth out of college by what hasn’t happened and it lives in the paralytic fear of what will happen (or not happen).
We age, we die. It is grim, but it is there.
Thompson gives a voice to the debate. Kemp (Thompson) walks that line between being penniless and unknown or rich and sold out. A phony to borrow from JD Salinger.
So Kemp drinks, to see what happens. Kemp gets into fights, goes to a carnival, sleeps with his friends ex-girlfriend, sells out a pristine island paradise for profit all in the name of discovery. What is he and where is he going.
The novel was a quick read and it was rich. Thompson’s voice clearly comes out through Kemp and it remains a testament to the restless soul. It pushes the against that boundary that we know we shouldn’t cross, but wonder what would happen if we did.
Coming away from this review I will leave you with a quote from Paul Kemp (Hunter S. Thompson) that is at the center of the book. Give it some thought and then pick up a copy (bootleg or not) of The Rum Diary.
I sat there a long time, and thought about a lot of things. Foremost among them was the suspicion that my strange and ungovernable instincts might do me in before I had a chance to get rich. No matter how much I wanted all those things that I needed money to buy there was some devilish current pushing me off in another direction-toward anarchy and poverty and craziness. That maddening delusion that a man can lead a decent life without hiring himself out as a Judas Goat.
-Hunter S. Thompson (Paul Kemp in The Rum Diary)
Some parts science fiction and some parts philosophy approach the novel Grimus by Salmon Rushdie. It is the first time I approached the man since reading Haroun and the Sea of Stories in high school and I was not let down.
The book jumped out at me from a sales rack in a closing-down Borders, RIP.
In true magical realist form, Rushdie gives us a series of events that we must accept as nothing short of fact. Multi-dimensional beings, immortal humans and a secret island only accessible through a break in space time (LOST fans hooked yet?) are all given to us in stride as we slowly unlock the epic of Flapping Eagle.
Given a serum by a fellow named Sispy that makes him immortal, Flapping Eagle struggles to find Calf Island and the man Grimus. It is his race to be the creator of his death that turns into a pre-destined journey in the making since the beginning of time. That is the premise, but the book sends roots much deeper in a multitude of directions.
Time is hard to pin down. There is no actual real-world equivalent to the time or places in the book, but it is all familiar. Glimpses of what we know.
The novel is not overly dense, but in order to really appreciate the world Rushdie makes for us, it is best read on vacation or during a period when you are not away from the story for long. It is a rich text that touches on the religious, philosophical, and cosmological all at once.
More than once during the story I found myself looking out at the world around me and feeling a distance. I felt the dimensional shift, somehow the world was a backdrop, a prop and I was the only real thing I knew. The book does that.
Grimus is Rushdie’s first novel and while it was largely overlooked by critics, it is still a book worth reading. LOST fans especially will appreciate this novel.