Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel"

Once again, I want to let go of some thoughts about the book I've been reading overnight so that I can settle down to sleep.

I want to let go of the book as well, and return it to the Library today, I think. I don't like leaving a book unfinished, but after 100 or so pages I'm finding Look Homeward, Angel too frustrating a read to continue.

The language is beautiful; it's the kind of book I want to jot down quotes from as I read. But the characters are like patchwork quilts; or rather, like a painting by Grandma Moses (was that her name?), too roughly hewn to be realistic.

Some quotes.

"...his white moist hands could draw from a violin music that had in it something unearthly and untaught."

"O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again."

"...the quick and healing gaiety of children, those absolute little gods of the moment..."

"...'I just had a feeling, I don't know what you'd call it,' she said, her face plucked inward by the sudden fabrication of legend..."

"Still midget-near the live pelt of the earth, he saw many things that he kept in fearful secret, knowing that revelation would be punished with ridicule."

Letting go is a theme for me right now. Letting go of my mother, or trying to, as she is so far beyond wretched that she really is in hell. Thankfully, hell is not eternal. O lost, and by the wind and your children grieved, beloved mother, go on from here and allow the suffering to end.

Letting go of other things, too. Letting go of the portion of my life when I was the most important person in another's life.


Mandy Walker said...

Don't feel guilty about returning the book to the library unfinished. I used to feel that if I started a book, I had to stick with it and finish it. My children cured me of this and I'm glad. When I used to read to them, if they couldn't get into the book, they'd just say they wanted me to read a different book and I thought it was important to read something they enjoyed than to finish the book. Then I started to feel that way about my own reading and now I won't labor through a book ... I may be one of the few people who actually gave up on Eat, Pray, Love. I made it through the Eat part and then the beginning of Pray but never made it to the love part.

Alyce Barry said...

Thanks for your comment, Mandy. I agree, and you've put it well. An English teacher of mine in high school told us, Don't ever waste time on a book you're not enjoying, there are too many good books in the world that you could be enjoying. I think what caught me about this book was the 2 introductions by people who obviously thought that Wolfe's writing was the very best, so it was hard to give up on it. A somewhat equivalent confession for me (as someone who used to work in the film industry) is that I tried to watch "Citizen Kane" twice (considered by some one of the best films ever made) and fell asleep both times, for me it was like touring a gallery of film techniques.