Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Time I will never get back.

I have been a reading fiend lately and I love it! Now that the kiddos are getting older and entertaining themselves more, not only am I able to read more while they're playing, but I am less intoxicated exhausted after they go to bed and therefore can stay up just a little bit longer. The last book I read from my top 150ish list was John Cheever's Falconer.
 This gem of a book is about a guy named Farragut who is conivcted of murdering his brother and sent to Falconer prison for the rest of his miserable life. So, the back cover blurb claims he struggles to remain a man in a "universe bent on beating him back into childhood." It's a modern crime and punishment prison story. Can you tell how unimpressed I am? If you haven't caught my somewhat sarcastic tone, let me tell you, it's there. Let's begin with our protagonist (if he can really be called that; he did kill his brother after all regardless if the guy was a jerk and asking for it). Farragut is one of the least likeable characters I have encountered. I didn't even feel sorry for him. His marriage sucked (I think there was some mutual cheating), he was a failure as a father, and his family was a nightmare, but he is an arrogant prick addicted to drugs who feels absolutely no remorse for the damage he's caused. He doesn't even own up to the fact that he murdered his brother, even though he admits hitting him with a fire iron, it was the hearth that killed him. Nothing really awful happens to him in prison that makes me feel any emotion other than disgust and he never has a "come to Jesus" moment to redeam his pathetic self. And then he suddenly breaks out and you're thinking, "Huh?" and then the book is over. Thank goodness.

What could possibly be worse than reading about Farragut's pointless journey to anticlimactic freedom? All the prison sex. Yeah, and I'm not talking about rape. Because men have needs and god forbid they don't achieve release because that would lead to anarchy and riots, so the guards turn a blind eye and ear to all the "relationships" and a special room in the basement where the men go for communal jacking off. I am not joking. And I just love hearing all the details about that. Really this was one long jack off of a book. I seriously cannot believe this is a top novel of all time. I don't feel like a better person, and I certaintly don't think I learned anything of value except that a brilliant prison escape imagined by Alexandre Dumas can be stolen rewritten in modern times. I am so happy to be done with this book, but John Cheever owes me for all the time I wasted reading it.

Maybe there was something I missed? Maybe I'm not smart enough to have enjoyed the irony, the case study of our American judicial system, what it truly means to be a man? No, I got that. I just didn't care. And this book got so many positive reviews! One person even said that if you don't like this book, you don't like American literature.

Well, call me unpatriotic.

Next, please.

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