Thursday, 22 May 2008

I've been memed.

Lindy (who most certainly does not have "just another blog"!) tagged me for this, and there’s no way I can pass up a chance write about any book I love. Especially this one. But before going any further here’s the rules:

Books are scarce in the world. They are illegal in some provinces. They are not easily replaced if not impossible to replace if lost in many if not most circumstances. If you can replace a book or buy one it is usually through the black market at astronomical costs that you cannot afford. Yet you have been able to maintain one of the best collections in the world. If your entire library was about to burn up (think of the firefighters in Fahrenheit 451 invading your home) and you could only have one book to take with you other than the Bible, what would that be and why?

Simple Rules: Answer the question. Offer one quote that resonates with you. Tag five people whose response is of genuine interest to you and inform him or her that they have been tagged. Cheers!

Ok folks – so my choice isn’t exactly highbrow, but I still think it's on of the greatest things ever written. I’ve bought and given away more copies than I can remember, but most of my friends couldn’t finish reading it. Some found the language too strained – lots of sentences without verbs, followed by others containing nothing but. Other’s just thought it too weird, but then they also say the same about me.

Perhaps because sometimes when reading this book I feel like I’ve already lived large junks, or at least imagined I have. Even though I’ve never been to Newfoundland, and everyone I’ve met who has says I’d be bitterly disappointed, in the dark times it even helped me believe that somewhere on the far corner of the planet there’s a place that even someone like me might just fit in. It’s the story of a man named Quoyle, although in some ways I’ve always known it as the story of a Priest named Caliban – but that’s a tale for another time.

The book is, of course The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx.
Read this – the novel’s final paragraph – out aloud. Preferably somewhere windy near water, with a glass of dry red wine in your hand: shout it out till the seagulls scream back and you’ll know what I mean. Especially if a funny-looking wet black dog is running beside you. Or maybe you won’t, but it’s still breath-taking writing.

"Quoyle experienced moments in all colors, uttered brilliancies, paid attention to the rich sound of waves counting stones, he laughed and wept, noticed sunsets, heard music in rain, said I do. For if Jack Buggit could escape from the pickle jar, if a bird with a broken neck could fly away, what else might be possible? Water may be older than light, diamonds crack in hot goat's blood, mountaintops give off cold fire, forests appear in mid-ocean, it may happen that a crab is caught with the shadow of a hand on its back, that the wind be imprisoned in a bit of knotted string. And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery."

Now when it comes to tagging others I'm not much good, since although I like these things about as much as most people seem to find them stressful, and I worry terribly about causing good people any stress.

Maybe it's just that for me after writing so much about porno and crappy churches any change is fun, buy I'm honestly interested in everyone who drops by here and their favourite book, so please, if you got the time and a book ou'd like to share feel welcome to pick up the meme and run with it. Just please remember to let me know here so I can link to it - as well as find a copy of the book if I haven't read it.


FranIAm said...

Isn't Lindy spectacular? I love her and Rowan too.

As for spectacular, you are not so bad yourself man! And your choice in books, well I completely agree.

How I love love love that book.

Nice post.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

What a lovely quote, Alcibiades! I especially loved this:

And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.

What I remember from that book is the term "gelatinous horror." I'll let you page through the book to find it. ;-)

My two favorite books of all time are Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I love that they both portray strong, intelligent women who are strengthened, not limited, by their families and their spouses. (I'm sure someone will be along shortly to take away my feminist credentials for saying be it.)

I'm not sure I could quote my favorite passage from the former (though it might be the scene where Laurie and Amy are rowing together and quietly agree to marry, or Jo and the Professor under the umbrella), but my favorite scene in P&P is the heated exchange between Elizabeth Bennett and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. That has got to be the best piece of dialogue in the English language...

Lindy said...

If you AND Fran love that book I'm going to go right out and get a copy!

I read the last paragraph aloud to Rowan. He was not impressed but I nearly cried over the beauty of it.

Great play Alcibiades! Makes me wish I knew you in real life.

Oh, and isn't Fran spectacular? Such a builder up of the saints.

BooCat said...

I listened to The Shipping News on tape in its entirety while stuck in a six hour traffic jam that followed a 30-car pile up on the central Interstate highway in Florida. It was the only thing that kept me sane. I don't know what I would have done if I had not taken it with me. I, too, love that book.

Alcibiades said...

Doxy: I thought that line about love occuring without pain or misery would find a similar resonance with you as it has to me. I think perhaps its one of those things you've got to have lived through to fully appreciate.

"Gelatinous horror" also rings a bell - I can't find my copy just now, so will buy a new one (again) in the next few days and get searching to find it. Wonderful expression.

I had to read P & P in my final year of high school, and as a 17 yr old boy chock-full of hormones it was far too subtle for me to appreciate. I'll find a copy at the same time I get another Shipping News and revisit it with a (slightly) more mature frame of mind.

Lindy: Hope you enjoy it! Who knows what corner of the world I may be turning up in before too much longer: if we ever do get a chance to meet the pleasure will be all mine.

Thanks again for the tag.