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Showing posts from June, 2008

"Good Morning, Midnight" by Jean Rhys

Never read Jean Rhys if you are unemployed and tend to overspend on late night visits to cafés. It tends to make you feel as though you are spiraling into depression, are old beyond your years, will never have money again, and despise the nature of humanity.
Published in 1938, the book chronicles the thoughts and habits of Sasha Jenkins, an Englishwoman (“L’Anglaise”) who has returned to Paris. She is poor, but spends her days revisiting old cafés, drinking, making casual – and disappointing – acquaintances. A woman obsessed with finding enough money to live comfortably on, she stoops to embarrassing lengths and rails against those who debase her.

Given a colour, this novel would be grey. Sentences now and then remind the reader that this is the grey that follows World War I, shortly before the Second World War and the subsequent French occupation. Life is meaningless, everyone is poor and grasping, youth is short and the devil is laughing.

Partially, one feels sorry for Sasha, regrets h…

A Word on Ulysses

It looks so tempting: a large, fat, pliable book. The pages are soft, the font is just right; if you carry it around with you, you can wear the term “literary” like a badge on your hat. (Warning: if you are not smart enough, you may have to log on to wikipedia to understand that there are indeed eighteen episodes which are supposed to correspond with The Odyssey. You may have to debase yourself further by reading the explanations and the sketches of what those episodes are trying to chronicle.)

To my credit, I finished the last third of the book on a turbulence-filled plane ride sandwiched between my mother and an unhappy man who was invading the demarcations the barrier between his seat and mine had delineated.

It has become my subsequent goal to read Joyce’s Ulysses at least once every five – or ten – years, and perhaps by the time that I am forty-five I will be able to discern the exact narrative arc and the Circe episode won’t scare me, and eventually I will love it, and throw obtus…