Monday 21 May 2007

12. Flowers for Algernon and 13. after the quake

I don't usually like to be reading two leisure books at the same time, but the circumstances of my day brought this unusual state about.

This morning, I started reading Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon (I finished the Mishima book yesterday; 'twas excellent). Melinda recommended the Keyes book to me when we happened upon it in a bookstore last fall. She'd read it when we were teenagers and really liked it. In fact, it turns out that my hubby and I are some of the only people in the world not to have read this as a teenager...ah well.

Flowers for Algernon is okay. I think I would have been blown away by it as a very young teenager; however, I'm not as forgiving a reader now as I was then (hell, I semi-willingly read V.C. Andrews then - I wasn't forgiving, I was stupid.) It's told in first person from the perspective of a young man with an I.Q. of 68 who is the recipient/victim of an experimental operation to increase intelligence. At this point in the book the operation is looking like a stunning success, as our erstwhile narrator has become even smarter than the scientists who did this to him. (Yet somehow, his writing style is about as sophisticated as that of a reasonably well-educated grade 12 student; the author is failing me here).

So, I hadn't planned on reading more of Flowers for Algernon tonight because it's irritating me a little. That said, I'll finish it because it's got short chapters and is therefore perfect for picking up and putting down when I get back to my revisions tomorrow. But then this afternoon, I sprained my ankle and have had to spend the evening sitting with my foot propped up and iced - what else is there to do in a situation like that but read? But I just couldn't stand the idea of reading any more of the Keyes book today, so I grabbed the most compelling thing within reaching distance of my chair - Haruki Murakami's after the quake.

This Murakami book is a collection of 6 short stories written after and peripherally about the huge earthquake that hit Kobe in 1995. I read the first 3 stories tonight and really enjoyed the second two, but especially "landscape with flatiron." I recently read Murakami's novel Kafka on the Shore and was ultimately extremely disappointed by it, so I'm pleased to be enjoying his fiction again.

(I can't recall when I was first introduced to Murakami, and I think Melinda introduced me to Keyes. I'll read more Murakami; Keyes can go eat his own head.)

No comments: