Tag Archives: plot

“Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

SharpObjects

After finishing The Odyssey, I started scouring my sagging shelves looking for something to read that would be more entertaining than contemplative. Someone had given me a copy of Sharp Objects, and since I had liked Gone Girl, I figured I would give it a go. Also, it was thinner than most unread books on my shelves, which helped sway my decision in favor of this book.

This is a pretty dark book that deals with some disturbing material, such as child murder, self-mutilation, and some other equally unsettling topics which I will omit so as not to spoil the ending for those who have not yet read this book. Of course, I have heard the stories of people who cut themselves, but reading the vivid descriptions in this book really drove home the unhealthy and addictive nature of this behavior.

… my first word, slashed on an anxious summer day at age thirteen: wicked. I woke up that morning, hot and bored, worried about the hours ahead. How do you keep safe when your whole day is as wide and empty as the sky? Anything could happen. I remember feeling that word, heavy and slightly sticky across my pubic bone. My mother’s steak knife. Cutting like a child along red imaginary lines. Cleaning myself. Digging in deeper. Cleaning myself. Pouring bleach over the knife and sneaking through the kitchen to return it. Wicked. Relief. The rest of the day, I spent ministering to my wound. Dig into the curves of W with an alcohol-soaked Q-tip. Pet my cheek until the sting went away. Lotion. Bandage. Repeat.

(pp. 60 – 61)

As is often the case with people who are addicts, the protagonist in this book replaces one addiction with another.

Instead I drink so I don’t think too much about what I’ve done to my body and so I don’t do it anymore. Yet most of the time that I’m awake, I want to cut.

(pp. 62 – 63)

This is very much a plot-driven book, but it does include some analogies that are interesting. One which struck me was the comparison between reporters and vampires.

Reporters are like vampires, Curry likes to say. They can’t come into your home without your invitation, but once they’re there, you won’t get them out till they’ve sucked you dry.

(p. 102)

While I personally liked Gone Girl better than this book, it was still worth the read. The writing is good, the dialogue is believable, and there are plenty of plot twists to keep you guessing right up until the final pages of the book. And it’s a quick read, which was exactly what I was in the mood for. As always, feel free to share your thoughts if you have read this book. I’d love to hear your opinions.

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“Dr. Sax” by Jack Kerouac

DrSaxI suspect that this post will probably piss off some hipsters out there, but I have to be honest—I thought this book sucked. In fact, in my mind I jokingly renamed it Dr. Sucks. And the truth is, I like Kerouac, but this book is a flop. I couldn’t finish it, and believe me; I hate not finishing a book. But this book was so dreadful and life is too short that I could not justify wasting any more time reading it.

I found it in a local used book store that was going out of business. All books were severely marked down, so I grabbed a stack. This was one of the ones I bought. I’d never heard of this book before, but hey, it’s Kerouac and for $2, how could I go wrong?

The book is basically Kerouac’s attempt at stream-of-consciousness writing. He weaves together memory and dream fragments in rambling sentences to try to capture how his mind works. I envisioned Jack sitting at a typewriter, wired on amphetamines, and frantically typing out every jagged thought that sped through his brain.

Here is a random paragraph from the book:

I could hear it rise from the rocks in a groaning wush ululating with the water, sprawlsh, sprawlsh, oom, oom, zoooo, all night long the river says zooo, zooo, the stars are fixed on rooftops like ink. Merrimac, dark name, sported dark valleys: my Lowell had the great trees of antiquity in the rocky north waving over lost arrowheads and Indian scalps, the pebbles on the slatecliff beach are full of hidden beads and were stepped on barefoot by Indians. Merrimac comes swooping from a north of eternities, falls pissing over locks, cracks and froths on rocks, bloth, and rolls frawing to the kale, calmed in dewpile stone holes slaty sharp (we dove off, cut our feet, summer afternoon stinky hookies), rocks full of ugly old suckers not fit to eat, and crap from sewage, and dyes, and you swallowed mouthfuls of the chokeful water— By moonlight night I see the Mighty Merrimac foaming in a thousand white horses upon the tragic plains below. Dream: —wooden sidewalk planks of Moody Street Bridge fall out, I hover on beams over rages of white horses in the roaring low, —moaning onward, armies and cavalries of charging Euplantus Eudronicus King Grays loop’d & curly like artists’ work, and with clay souls’ snow curlicue rooster togas in the fore front.

Now, I confess, I understand what Kerouac was trying to do here, and I can appreciate it. Expressing the workings of the subconscious mind is not an easy thing to do. And the truth is, I enjoy stream-of-consciousness writing, if it’s done well, and therein is the issue; it really wasn’t done well. This book in no way compares with the works of James Joyce or Thomas Wolfe. In addition, it seems that the entire book is nothing but the rambling stream-of-consciousness. That’s right—no plot, no narrative, basically, no story. After reading almost 100 pages of streaming memory fragments, I just couldn’t take any more.

As much as I hate to part with books, I will probably put this out the next time I have a yard sale. I’m sure there are hipster-wannabes out there willing to pay $2 for this book and who will pretend to find it deep and inspiring.

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