A strange, sad, and yet interesting book. It's not one of those books I'll tell people, "You have got to read this!" but it held my interest and madeA strange, sad, and yet interesting book. It's not one of those books I'll tell people, "You have got to read this!" but it held my interest and made me think. I might have even enjoyed it more had I listened to it as an audio book as opposed to the written form, if the story teller was a talented one who did characters voices - especially country-folk complete with accents - quite well.
The Beans made for a great book club selection, as we we had a very colorful conversation about it this morning. Most of us had the original 1985 edition, but a couple in our group had the more recently published version in which there were small changes made by the author and a very curious postscript that comes off defensive and at times bizarre. That was just as fun discussing as the book itself!
Apparently there was a movie based on the book, too http://www.amazon.com/Forbidden-Choic... I kept imagining adapting the book for film when I was reading it. Reading about these characters, I couldn't help but try to imagine them in the flesh. What a bunch! All in all, I felt that character development left me wanting, especially in regards to the central characters at the heart of the story, and the book left me wondering about what happened to other characters. Definitely left room for speculation and allowed my imagination to have some creative pondering....more
The young can exasperate, of course, and frighten, and condescend, and insult, and cut you with their still unrounded edges. But they can also drag yoThe young can exasperate, of course, and frighten, and condescend, and insult, and cut you with their still unrounded edges. But they can also drag you, as you protest and scold and try to pull away, right up to the window of the future, and even push you through.
There was no sense in assuring her that she would have a good day, or, for that matter, a hard one; Cora didn't know what lay in store, for this day or any other. She could only promise to be there at three, to console, to celebrate, or to strategize, to help this child as best she could, to hold her hand and lead her home.
Was it mad to at least try to live as one wished, or as close to it as possible? This life is mine, she would think sometimes. This life is mine because of good luck. And because I reached out and took it.
Got as far as the chapter "Alice and Billups." My loan ran out before I could finish it. It's probably better that way, because at the rate I'm goingGot as far as the chapter "Alice and Billups." My loan ran out before I could finish it. It's probably better that way, because at the rate I'm going with finding time for recreational reading, I need to get started on the next book for April 4th....more
Eh. Kind of lame. A fluff read. No depth. Though, given the subject matter, you'd think there would be.
On a positive note I found one quote from the bEh. Kind of lame. A fluff read. No depth. Though, given the subject matter, you'd think there would be.
On a positive note I found one quote from the book that rang true with me: "I had a huge thick biography of Harry Truman that I'd begun before the accident. But I coudnn't seem to make much headway in it. 'Reading is the first to go," my mother used to say, meaning that it was a luxury the brain dispensed with under duress." page 52 I, from experience, can testify this is absolutely true.
Oh, and one more: "I used to toy with the notion that when we die we find out what our lives have amounted to, finally. I'd never imagined that we could find that out when somebody else dies." page 155...more
"I'm not Persephone. I'm not going to cheat on Henry no matter what season it is, and I don't care how much time passes. That isn't going to change." "I'm not Persephone. I'm not going to cheat on Henry no matter what season it is, and I don't care how much time passes. That isn't going to change." "What if things never get better?" said James. "What if Henry never loves you the way you deserve? What happened to Persephone... I don't want to see you repeat her mistakes. You shouldn't have to go through that kind of pain - you or Henry both. He's set in his ways, and he's never going to change. There's no shame in admitting your marriage isn't working - " "Just because we have some problems doesn't mean it isn't working." He sighed. "All I'm saying is that you have a choice, Kate. Understand that, please, and don't go running in the direction of Henry because you think you can fix him." "I'm not," I snarled. "I'm with him because I love him." "Then it shouldn't be too hard for you to make me a promise," said James. He was crazy if he thought I was going to promise him anything though. "Think about the possibility of living your own life instead of the life Henry and the rest of the council want you to live - and I don't mean consider it for half a second. I mean imagine what it'll be like if Henry never loves you like you love him. Imagine how it'll feel coming home to a cold bed and a husband who would rather do anything else than spend time with you. Because like it or not, if you stay, that's a possibility. And in return, I'll stop badgering you."
"And they both began to laugh over nothings as children will when they are happy together. And they laughed so hard that in the end they were making a"And they both began to laugh over nothings as children will when they are happy together. And they laughed so hard that in the end they were making as much noise as if they had been two ordinary healthy natural ten-year-old creatures - instead of a hard, little, unloving girl and a sickly boy who believed that he was going to die." p154
"[Mary] knew nothing about the pitifulness of people who had been ill and nervous and who did not know that they could control their tempers and need not make other people ill and nervous, too. When she had a headache in India she had done her best to see that everybody else also had a headache or something quite as bad. And she felt she was quite right; but of course now she felt that Colin was quite wrong." p 175
"Lot o' fools," said Ben. "Th' word's full o' jackasses brayin' an' they never bray nowt but lies." p 238...more
"What is this place?" He looked amused. "Have you not figured it out already?" I felt my cheeks color. At least there was some blood left in my head, "What is this place?" He looked amused. "Have you not figured it out already?" I felt my cheeks color. At least there was some blood left in my head, which meant I had a chance at standing without passing out. "I've been a little busy thinking about other stuff." Getting to his feet, Henry offered me his hand. I didn't take it, but it didn't seem to bother him. "It goes by many names. Elysium, Annwn, Paradise - some even call it the Garden of Eden." He smiled as if he'd told a clever little joke. I didn't get it, and my confusion must have shown, because he continued without me asking. "This is the gate between the living and the dead," he said. "You are still living. The others on the grounds died a very long time ago." A chill ran through me. "And you?" "Me?" The corner of his mouth twitched. "I rule the dead. I am not one of them." page 84
I couldn't have him, but with each evening that passed, I felt myself falling deeper and deeper for him, spiraling downward into a place where the word love was synonymous with pain. Every look, every touch, every brush of his lips, as innocent as they may have been - how could he say he only wanted friendship when he was treating me like his partner? When he wanted me to be his wife? I didn't understand it, and as time passed, I grew more confused. I didn't know what this sort of love felt like, but by the time winter started to come to an end, with the exception of my mother, I felt closer to him than I had to anyone in my life. It hurt to be away from him, but sometimes, when he told me stories of his life before me, his life with Persephone, it was agony to be with him. Still, our friendship was so strong that it felt like the most natural thing in the world. There was no one I'd have rather spent my time with, no matter how much it hurt. pp 217-8
"He could not take his eyes away from the backs of her knees. As she stretched, her dress of a soft cottony flowered fabric rose up, exposing that sel"He could not take his eyes away from the backs of her knees. As she stretched, her dress of a soft cottony flowered fabric rose up, exposing that seldom notice, ooo-so-vulnerable flesh. And for a reason he still did not understand, he began to cry. Love plain, simple, and so fast it shattered him." p22
"Don't paint me as some enthusiastic hero. I had to go but I dreaded it." p84...more
I had heard of this movie from a friend many years ago. From what I'd heard of it, it was a graphic story laden with violence. I also learned that itI had heard of this movie from a friend many years ago. From what I'd heard of it, it was a graphic story laden with violence. I also learned that it was based on a book. Years later, still have never seeing it, I saw that my local library at the time carried the movie. So I checked it out and prepared myself for a controversial flim. (I was in the midst of watching a lot of other classics at that time that I had never seen: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Pscyho, Gone with the Wind, etc.) This was around 2009 or 2010.
What really ended up surprising me was that I really liked the idea behind the movie. I didn't care for the violence or any of that, obviously, but the central idea behind it all really won me over and really stuck with me well after I had turned it off and moved on. And what was this idea? It was the classic issue of morality. Free will. Good and bad. Moral choice.
The gist of the story is, if a society had the ability to "rehabilitate" sadistic and violent individuals, at what cost would that be justified? Because, ultimately, after Alex receives his treatment, he may no longer have been able to inflict harm on others, but he was also rendered incapable of choice. In addition, he was incapable defending himself against the evils of the world, since he was conditioned to be intolerant of any kind of violence.
So this leads one to wonder, if this type of treatment existed, would it be a fair course of action? Might some justify it as payback for truly sadistic persons who have inflicted so much harm upon others? If given the choice of this "treatment" versus a life incarcerated, or even the death penalty, what would someone in Alex's shoes choose if they were truly informed of the implications of such conditioning? We certainly become aware that Alex comes to regret his choice and loathes the "rehabilitation" he recieved, but he was never truly informed of the specifics of his treatment. Ultimately, he finds his quality of life so intolerable after the treatment that he sees the only possible way to resolve his situation is to off himself.
In 2011 I got my hands on a used copy of this book. Ever since viewing the movie, which, as I mentioned earlier, stuck with me, I was eager to read the literary work that was responsible for inspiring the film. The edition I picked up was the one most recently published in the US, the one that included the original 21st chapter that was published in Britain but excluded from previous copies here in the states. Therefor, Kubrick's film, though filmed in England, sticks to the American version - the version that ended with the 20th chapter - instead of the 21st. (More on the 21st chapter later.)
The first thing that caught me off guard when I first began reading the book, that I had no knowledge or expectation of, was the language. The language! Surely I've read books with some unusual use of language, old english, slang, etc., but the language in this book was a different breed altogether. The language Alex speaks in, while essentially English, is so obscure and filled with such odd words that it hardly resembles English at times. It's called Nadsat, and it is the teen slang of the future. This in itself was intimidating. Just a few pages into the book, I was quite nervous about what I'd gotten myself into.
Sure enough, I got the hang of it eventually. A lot of it can be figured out in context. A few chapters into the book I ended up looking for a glossary type resource online, and found one. This helped a lot with determining the meaning of some of the tougher words. The truth is, though, if you go into the book and treat it like submersion in to a foreign language, you'll understand enough, do just fine, and ultimately figure it out. Of course, if you want to pause and look up every word, too, this will eventually work out fine as well, since by the time you're half way through the book you have an excellent grip on Nadsat. (P.S. Any one want to govoreet in Nadsat with me? I'm real horrorshow at it now.)
It's been a few years now since I've seen the movie. From what I can remember, the movie seems to be quite true to the book. Though I am curious, had Kubrick incorporated the 21st chapter into his film, how that would have been done. I would love to see yet another director take on this work of fiction and put it on the big screen yet again in a fresh new interpretation.
So, that 21st chapter. I said I'd get back to it, didn't I? Well, though I appreciate that Alex eventually comes around and wants to change (a nice fairytale ending), I have a few problems with it. The thing is this: yes, kids can be irresponsible, reckless, explosive, impulsive, and violent. But I don't believe that all kids are this way, and the ones that are all exhibit these traits to varying degrees, and most not to the extent that Alex was. The level of violence exhibited by Alex was in no way a mandatory or common component of youth. Alex was above and beyond the troubled teenager. And, in my opinion, Alex demonstrated psychopathic characteristics. (I'm no phsycologist - this is all just my opinion.) He got his kicks from other people's suffering and demonstrated little to no remorse for his actions. In addition, he was incredibly egocentric and narcissistic. So, for Burgess to suddenly have Alex overcome this youthful lust for destruction, and crave the more productive route of creation, seems a little too "out of the blue," if you know what I mean. Especiallly given his propensity towards violence throughout the entire book. It bothers my that Burgess implies that youth=an inclination towards detruction, and maturity=an inclination towards creation. It just doesn't work that way, to me. Maybe in this strange, distopian, nadsat-speaking world Burgess fashioned, but not in this world. In spite of my criticism, I realize why Burgess wrote the 21st chapter this way, as he said himself, "the twenty-first chapter gives the novel the quality of genuine fiction, an art founded on the principle that human beings change." The problem is, I would have liked the change to have been more authentic and convincing.
Regardless of the 21st chapter, this is a fascinating story of a thuggish protagonist with some serious issues, and the curious path he follows which brings into question the matter of moral choice, free will, and a human's inclination towards good and evil. A classic tale, for certain, with some crazy language mixed in. Now I have to go find the movie again and see what I think of it now. ...more