a thoroughly enjoyable experiment of the bookish kind
For those of you who have had the pleasure (commence eye-roll) of conversing with me regarding modern fiction, you know I make no bones about reading classical literature versus the bestseller. For the most part, I've not felt any sense of loss to disassociate myself from certain adolescent bestsellers, as entertaining as they may be.
My decision was justified in 2007 when I decided to read The Road. Although I enjoyed the plot and theme (despite it being unoriginal - I can tell you 5 novels off the top of my head written pre-1980 that deal with the decaying nature of humanity vs the enduring nobility of same during apocalyptic/traumatic times), I was mortified by McCarthy's use of language and the strange occult following the novel produced. The trend irritated me to no end, and although now I can see McCarthy's mode, I still cannot say that my first experiment with reading anything published in the last 10 years was a rewarding one. I engaged in so many subsequent defensives on my hatred of the book that it became an entirely exhausting experiment.
I've endured many interpersonal changes in that same time span, and quite proudly say that I've learned to be less rigid, and have allowed myself to be less narrowly defined by standards I imposed upon myself during my sadly-lacking (in modern literature) Christian education. I still stand by my voice that modern fiction is sub-par in word choice and cadences as classical literature, but I've found a way for the modern voice to be just as important, inspiring, and informative to culture.
All of this to say that last month, I did something I've absolutely never done before. I went to a NEW bookstore in pursuit of a novel published weeks prior. I then proceeded to purchase this book for $30! (I've not spent more than $10 on a book in 10 years).
I have this dream about wandering into a bookstore and picking a novel based entirely on my mood, how much I want to shop, and the cover, applying the nonchalance I use to pick out a red wine (even if I limit myself to the Italian section these days).
I am not quite there yet. This recent trip to the store was still premeditated and I picked this book based on a "Fresh Air" interview with the author. But still, I am growing!
From the moment I started The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides (some of you may know him for his Pulitzer Prize winning, Middlesex), I not only absorbed each word like a precious Belgian truffle, but I was rather challenged with his vocabulary, and not just a little bit impressed with his skill as a writer. It helped that his heroine is a disillusioned English major and his two beaus are 1) a manic depressive and 2) a religious studies major. How could I resist three areas of my own personal interests?!
It feels so good to be a part of a self-experiment gone terribly right. I completely recommend the book.