Brad's Reviews > The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
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May 09, 11

bookshelves: guiltiest-of-pleasures, personal-mythology, too-honest
Read in September, 2000, read count: 1

So there was this girl I loved, deeply loved, and our love was key to the end of my first marriage. We didn't cheat physically, although there was no avoiding or denying the intellectual and emotional cheating that just being in each others' presence elicited, but my partner/wife felt that something was wrong with our "friendship," and she was right.

C--- and I had been in love for a couple of months, and it was the night before I was leaving for my anniversary trip. I was meeting my partner/wife for a weekend of Shakespeare plays, good food and theoretical love making (which never happened), and I was having a final cast party at our home after the summer production of one of my plays. My partner/wife was already near Stratford, Ontario -- home of Canada’s Shakespeare Festival. She was at her family reunion, and at the time I had no idea she was with her lover (I later discovered that their affair had spanned countries and years); I felt paradoxical Catholic guilt for my pseudo-adultery and the liberation of being freshly in love as I sat at my backyard pool and let my feet brush C---'s in the cool water under the moonlight.

That night she told me of her love for Ayn Rand's Fountainhead, a book I'd long ignored, supposing it and its politics were not for me. She opined about Objectivism and selfishness, and I was intrigued as only one in love and full of their own selfishness could be. So when I reached my first airport bookstore in DC the next day, I sought a copy of Fountainhead and bought it during my layover. It became a constant companion during the rest of my trip.

The next day I began racking up the largest cell phone bill I've ever produced, talking to C--- at all hours of the day and wherever I happened to be: once I was on the edge of a field full of dairy cows, often I was at the local pub imbibing Black & Tans, and the rest of the time I was in my cousin's empty house (he was on a camping weekend, and I was staying there until I hooked up with my partner/wife) amidst his kitschy Elvis memorabilia. When I wasn't talking to C---, I wrote, I watched bad T.V., and I alternated between Rendezvous with Rama and Fountainhead. Somewhere in those three days I rented Boondock Saints (another favourite of C---'s), and then, as if fate were taking a hand, I turned on the CBC and caught the documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life. Coincidence, but a fascinating one that made me enjoy and love the book more than it deserved.

And I did love the book. I’ve never read it again -- and I really disdain Objectivism -- but there was a clarity in Rand’s prose that was captivating. She goes on and on, but she does it beautifully, which makes me understand why her ideas are so beloved by those on the other side of the political membrane. She propagandizes like Goebbels. She makes you want to believe. Hell, she even makes rape seem acceptable (ish). And as long as you don’t pay too much attention to what she said and focus, instead, on how she said it, the Fountainhead is a masterpiece.

If it weren’t for C--- I don’t know that I’d have given this book another thought, but there was a C---, and this book means something more to me than it should. How bizarre is man?
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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 1: by Kelly (last edited May 08, 2011 09:42PM) (new)

Kelly The life experiences that lead us to different works- whether that be music, art or books- is so so interesting to me. The webs of association are just so fascinating- Virginia Woolf is the only writer I've ever come across who expresses how amazing it is properly. Thanks for telling this story.

I have lots of songs and even art I associate with love affairs, but books? Surprisingly few. The one that stands out in my mind is the boy who read Arturo Perez-Reverte's Nautical Chart just because I told him he was just like the main character... and then left very soon afterwards in the most spectacularly assholish fashion possible. I always wondered a little bit if it was because he didn't like that character comparison.


Brad Please tell me there was no biting accident involved in that learning experience.


message 3: by Kelly (new)

Kelly ... Okay, now I'm kind of hoping for it. That would be an even better story! :)


message 4: by Brad (last edited May 08, 2011 09:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brad Kelly wrote: "I always wondered a little bit if it was because he didn't like that character comparison. ..." We're all so thin skinned, aren't we? At least the boys are. I think the personal stories are my favourite part of goodreads. They're always the reviews that matter most to me, so thanks, Kelly, cause I wasn't sure telling this tale was the best idea.


message 5: by Kelly (last edited May 08, 2011 09:56PM) (new)

Kelly I think the personal stories are my favourite part of goodreads. They're always the reviews that matter most to me, so thanks, Kelly, cause I wasn't sure telling this tale was the best idea.

Okay, A) I completely agree with you in your verdict on personal stories mattering the most here. Particularly when they are as well expressed as yours. We're completely on the same page. and B) I honestly think stories like of which we're not completely proud (and not in the "oh no, I was such a dork I read Star Wars!" way) are the most fascinating because I think they end up taking the most brain space and requiring the most thought to live with and to remember, which ends up making them way way more interesting stories that resonate beyond a surface level. Don't feel bad about telling this tale at all. If its people getting judgey with you you're worried about, how many people REALLY have room to judge on the subject of love affairs? Not many. I totally recognize at least some of what you're describing.


message 6: by ♥Xeni♥ (new)

♥Xeni♥ Thanks Brad, for posting this. It's sometimes even more important WHY we picked up a book, rather than what we thought of it. I've got a couple of books in my collection like that (although I can't think of any right now) and whenever I stumble across one of those again, I feel like I've been transported back into my own history, either for good or for worse.

Loved reading your review/story! You always bring something new into your reviews, which make them so wonderful to read!


Brad Thanks, Kelly. I love your "B." And thanks to you too, <3Xeni<3. Like you I think the "why" is often the more interesting.


message 8: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday i once broke up with someone because she was an ardent follower of ayn rand. it just started bothering me more and more. mind you, this was in college when i was much more obnoxiously political.

then she turned around and started dating my roommate: sweet revenge, and a fitting response from an Objectivist!


Brad hahahaha! no doubt ... perfectly fitting response. gotta appreciate that at least a little.


message 10: by Joel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joel Hell, she even makes rape seem acceptable (ish).

disagree, but i do think this is a very entertaining book. even if you despise objectivism.


message 11: by Brad (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brad Sherri wrote: "One other thing -- I do think that when in the grip and spell of a book, the most appalling things can be, for at least a few seconds, acceptable or at least ignorable...."

Yes! I feel that way too. And I'm glad there was no biting. That's something, no matter what end of it I might happen to be on, that would scar me forever.

Thanks, Brian. I wonder if I can even handle some of Atlas Shrugged. Have you ever read that, Joel? Is it worth a go?


message 12: by Brad (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brad Well, it sits there over my shoulder on the shelf, taunting me, so I will get to it someday. I love things that are randy, by the way.


message 13: by Joel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joel i haven't read atlas shrugged though i have a thrift store copy around (never buy rand at the bookstore!). i'm sure i would "enjoy" it the same way i did the fountainhead, but it's pretty much the equivalent of five normal books so...


message 14: by Eball (new)

Eball I read Ayn's books many years ago (60s); Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead. At that time in my life I found both books thought provoking and (for that time period) ahead of their time. If I am not mistaken (forgetful in old age), she also wrote a good book titled Anthem. Being out of you other critics age group, you can just ignor the rantings of an old lady LOL. Aunt Elaine


message 15: by Heather (new) - added it

Heather Mize Agree with Kelly's Part B above and like the person stories. I often ponder at the web of why we choose what we choose. It's fascinating. Even the order in which we read books is affecting. Ah, the things that keep me awake at night...lol


message 16: by Heather (new) - added it

Heather Mize personal stories...haha...not person stories.


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