Sunday, September 9, 2007

Story time

I finished Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows last weekend, and haven't really recovered. Beyond the basic disappointment of the end of the entertainment, I'm forced into this reoccurring realization my new best friend is actually a figment of the combined imagination of the author and myself. Is my mind unusually swayed to have these characters in my dreams, to find I pick up their dialect or thought patterns? Should I fault the enveloping nature of the fiction, or my own gullibility (and the fact that I read all seven in eight weeks), for making me wonder if people at work are secretly working for the Dark Lord?

Regardless of cause, I get quite smitten with some characters, and closing the book seems to flatten them into shocking nonexistence. Suddenly, they're nothing more than a body of words. I feel adolescent foolish all over again to have become emotionally involved with someone who can't possibly adore me back. It's embarrassing.

Usually it's a Jane Eyre or Anne Elliot, some moderately attractive but witty underdog heroine who leaves me to be married to the most fabulous man in England. Maybe I've read too few books with male leads, or maybe I just didn't relate to them. After Holden Caufield, I read Nine Stories and anything else I could find by JD Salinger; but Harry Potter seems even more gone for the fact that I've got nothing else written by JK Rowling.

I'm working through Sarah Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot, hoping to be inspired toward the appreciation of US history I didn't grasp in Advanced Placement. Maybe it's too droll or too nerdy, but my ability to follow the essays merrily is dampened by irritation that Vowell is far too entranced by politics and history. It's like reading inside jokes among high school social studies teachers, jokes I just don't get. The Salem witch trials? Interesting. Not really entertaining in the novel way I've become used to.

In a similar historical-significance vein, I'm halfway through (Kelsey's) Dave Egger's What Is The What, an enhanced biography of a Sudanese "Lost Boy" refugee. I've guiltily avoided picking it up again, because it's a slow trudge through tragedy upon tragedy, though villages, deserts, violence, and US bureaucracy. Again, interesting, but ...

Brian says I should read another Octavia Butler, or maybe I'll go for a Nabokov, or 100 Years of Solitude, or reread the Vonnegut I thought I got in high school.

Or I might give up literature entirely and focus on this month's 840-page Vogue. Certainly not the same as a great character-driven novel, but at least the main players -- fall boots, shiny hair, semi-intellectual fashion commentary -- won't be gone when I close the cover.

1 comment:

Meg said...

JD Salinger is a great favorite of mine. I find myself rereading his books on a regular basis, because I find peace is his ability to be so tragic and hilarious all at once. Franny & Zooey is my first choice, followed closely by Raise High the Roofbeam...I have a hard time getting into Dave Eggers, so I like to pretend he doesn't exist since everyone else seems to think he's so fab. (shrug) I vote for the Vogue. Vogue! Vogue! Vogue! Or, how about some real chick lit? Ever read Eat, Pray, Love? The Wonder Spot? Some fun semi-fluff might help you get over the loss of Harry Potter. :)