Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An honest darkness

I need something to get me excited about life again.

Last night I finished For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway. It was amazing. Best book I've read in at least a couple years. In fact, while I can't ever remember getting so wrapped up in a book before that I couldn't put it down, as it were, I couldn't put this one down––at least not for the last eight or nine chapters. It was gripping, poignant––and also extremely and profoundly depressing.

Books that I think are great usually have to speak to me in some way, and this one spoke to all of the despondency, meaninglessness and the darkly ironic sense that only what I think shouldn't happen will happen. Things that I tend to teeter on the edge of most days.

I know I should probably stick to literature––and music too for that matter––that denies those feelings instead of affirming them. But I tend to come away feeling insulted by books that deny them. And so I inevitably gravitate toward the other ones. The ones like Candide last Christmas, A Thousand Splendid Suns a few years ago, or my all time favorite book, Till We Have Faces, one of the very small number of books I've read twice.

I don't like things that are morbidly dark. I can't stand horror books, or horror movies, or death-metal. Glorifying pain isn't any more honest than pretending it doesn't exist. But it's the books that are honestly dark. The ones that don't deny that there is beauty in the world, that there is goodness in people, and in God––but also that the world is full of pain, and darkness, and irony, and maybe, just maybe the balance doesn't quite add up.

Those are the books that get me.

And I've been gotten.

That combined with a few, very very minor let-downs this week, has me feeling down. I wouldn't say I'm quite depressed. Just not very excited about life.


Rachel said...

Hmmmm...I'm STILL figuring out if I liked Till WE Have Faces...

Andrew said...

I know my sister didn't like it very much. Some people don't I guess, but I really do.