Livres Déprimants

I was lying in bed reading Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman this morning when I recognized a trend in the books I’ve been reading as of late.

One theme is the ephemeral and futile nature of love. On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction by Karl Iagnemma is a good case in point. All of the stories are very well told, but there isn’t really a happy ending to any of them. The final story, Children of Hunger, is a wonderfully crafted and completely depressing look at the balance between fulfilling one’s internal emotional life and pursing the external, in this case scientific progress.

Joseph Heller’s protagonist in Something Happened has one of the most jaded (and honest) perspectives on human relationships I’ve encountered in a while. It was especially fascinating for me in that his descent into disillusionment began as he entered his donkey years. Since I’ll soon leave the desert and rejoin the real world of deadlines, fast food and picket fences, this was especially poignant (and disheartening) for me.

Another theme is people who go crazy in response to the the pressures of life. Pretty much every character in Paul Auster’s Moon Palace has a breakdown at one point or another. Auster makes it sound almost romantic. The book is not a little ball of sunbeams by any means, but it left me in a significantly better mood than In the Country of Last Things.

What is strange is that the books aren’t my selections for the most part. All but one of them were given to me by someone else when I asked for good books they’d read. I’m taking it as a sign from God that people suck and I’m supposed to just give up and go crazy. ☺ Unfortunately I’m a bit too busy right now to go crazy, but soon. I’ve got it penciled in for mid-July. I figure I’ll start on the degenerating descent sometime at the beginning of the month. I’m already pretty antisocial as of late. I figure adding in some eclectic dietary practices and muttering to myself, and I can get to a breakdown in three weeks or so.

In seriousness though, if you run across any of these, give them a read. I’ve been pleased with all of them. Something Happened in particular messed with my head and Moon Palace made me cry in a detached fitful sort of way.

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