Christopher's Reviews > A Handful of Dust

A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
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Apr 09, 10

Read in April, 2010

Oh I hate this book--but in a good way. It was one long descent into a world without meaning. A beautifully depressing tale that I struggle to extricate myself from. I feel entwined somehow in the struggle between the sacred life Tony lives of decorum, nobles oblige, and preservation of family heritage and the profane drive to detach from the nonsense of the past. But the characters in this book seem only to exchange it for vapid modern existence. Is there no middle ground?

I've rehearsed over and over the sequence about Tony traveling into Brazil and ending up as a slave reading Dickens's books to his captor ad infinitum. My mind tries to find meaning in it, but I just end up in an absurdist fit.



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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Heather (last edited Apr 08, 2010 09:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Heather Roberts that is EXACTLY why i said at the end of it that it would only make one see the world better. he was such a genius at showing how vapid life can be. he made it funny and full of despair with incredibly beautiful writing. it was really a wicked juxtaposition but i could only be inspired to look up and beyond. i would hate to live like that. you're right, it's a suicidal hell of a read. i think purposely so. i think waugh wants us to go through the stark intensity so we terribly want to get out of it. i don't know of another writer that is able to take my soul on such an intense ride and pull me into wanting and doing things of light even more. i'm so very glad my life is not like _dust's_ characters. (i so hope not, anyway.) the pain, and beauty, of that book made me take stock of my life and inspire me to make even more goals for becoming and treating others better. i'm very glad you feel so strongly about this book. it feels intensely terrible. yet art doesn't always want us to feel good to really see. seeing gives us power to hopefully act or change for the better. at least, i think, that is the purpose...through reading your review, i believe you truly really do see...of course, none of that is news to you...kudos on hating it.


message 2: by Heather (last edited Apr 09, 2010 01:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Heather Roberts ps:

just journaled this...

my fave line of waugh review:

"I feel entwined somehow in the struggle between the sacred life Tony lives of decorum, nobles oblige, and preservation of family heritage and the drive to detach from the nonsense of the past and to trade it for vapid modern existence."

i sometimes feel caught, sometimes feel suspended by choice.

i so want tony to see that there are so many more choices than those two. i want him to see the full spectrum of gorgeous possibilities for living. often simple, right in front of us, and better than we ever hoped to imagine. no need to carry with us the baggage of old generational patterns that no longer serve our becoming fully actualized (note: healthy traditions are much different. i encourage keeping those fun rehearsals.)

i want myself to see the same myriad choices daily and treasure them.

such a tendency for black and white in an endless crayola world.


Deja wow, your heather friend is deep and smart and stuff.

sorry it was a terrible read for you. sad books don't hurt me (knock on wood). good art makes me happy. and this, for me, was damn good art.


message 4: by Heather (last edited Apr 09, 2010 08:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Heather Roberts thank you, deja. and you, from this post and others i've seen on mutual friend's, like chris, have a talent to say so much with a concise amount of perfectly chosen words in a way that makes me feel good and smile. i very much admire that.

chris, ultimately that is how i feel, too. it is a sad book. you caught that sadness intensely. i felt it empathetically while reading your comment. i didn't want you to feel the pain of it. yet, i know your and art's power. still glad you hated it so.

damn good art, indeed.


Deja well said, heather.


Deja and thanks for the kind words, too.


message 7: by Heather (last edited Apr 09, 2010 03:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Heather Roberts @Deja-my pleasure
@Chris-you edited your review. I adore how you it is. Now and before. It is incredible to me how words and themes move us. This book and all of the expressions over it have been in my heart today. A pang of heartbreak. Still inspired. Thanks for being vulnerable, real.


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