Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sophies Choice pt. 1- This book sucks

OVERDRAMATIC PLOT DEVICE COUNT:
Veterans of War- 2
Holocaust Survivors- 1
Abusive Relationships- 1
Alcoholism- 1
Unemployment- 1
Unrequited Love Interests- 2
Page- 76 of 599

I haven't even gotten to the part where the holocaust story actualy starts. This guy has spent the first 76 pages just talking about himself, and only getting into the actual namesake of the book halfway through the second chapter. I was expecting this book to be bad, but not THIS bad.

This is why I hate holocaust literature- As I see it, the main selling point for holocaust literature to exist is to find meaning in such an overwhelming and inhumane act in history. The stories give light to individual stories which often get lost in the overwhelming magnitude of what happened, thereby giving us a means of approaching the holocaust with soem resemblance of familiarity. The problem is that it is completely impossible to figure out if the story if true or not (unless the story is being told by the person who survived). If the story is made up, then this doesn't help us approach the holocaust because we are actually approaching a fictitious event. It would be as if you were trying to understand what living in New York was like in the 90's by watching "Friends." Some of it makes sense, but the fact is a lot of it is made up for the sake of drama.

Of course, this is why people should READ holocaust literature or, more accurately, read the stories of the survivors who made it through, not write it. That should be saved for the people who were actually involved. Styron is not a survivor. He's a person pawning off someone elses story for his own benefit. While I don't necessarily feel that this is wrong or bad writing, it does bring up the question as to why he's writing it in the first place. Considering the already insanely high dramatic plot device count (the alcoholism is unrelated to the abusive relatioship, fyi), I would say he is only writing this so he can concoct the most overdramatic pile of tripe he can push out.

And that is what bothers me about holocaust literature- its lazy. Its an excuse for people to grab onto your heart strings and yank on them as hard as you possibly can. Up until this point, the book has been a ridiculous role call of dramatic cliches. Characters I will never see again pop up just long enough to be drunks who sob about their son who died tragically in the war, that sort of thing. I'm waiting for the actual story to come, and while I understand that the story of the author might be the main plot line, I hope its not. So far its just a guy whining about how "art is SOOOOOOO hard" which is the most annoying thing to read ever. It's writing- get over it.

The book hits with the subtlety of a sledge hammer and the way he writes follows suit. A quick section from the narrator, talking about a woman he has a crush on in his apartment complex:
"My lust was incredible- somethign prehensile, a groping snout of desire, slithering down the begrimed walls of the wretched old building, uncoiling itself across a fence, moving with haste surpentine and indecent to a point just short of her upturned rump, where in myself, priapic, ravenous, yet under hair-trigger control. Gently my arms surrounded Mavis, and I cupped my hands under her full, free-floating, honeydew breasts."

At best, the guy is trying to mimic a bad romance novel, but the problem I have is that I can't see the distinction between this passage and the rest of the book. The whole thing is overwhelmingly flowery to the point where I question whether he is working on a novel or just one incredibly long SAT prep exercise in which he has to use every single vocabulary word from the entire semester. If thinking about women ever becomes THAT difficult for me, I'm signing up to be a eunich.

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