Monday, April 13, 2015

Lines worth a comment

Wit's End, the Karen Joy Fowler novel I wrote about a few days ago, contains a number of lines worth writing down as I read the book and now, a few days later, worth writing about. Let's begin:

Getting up would very likely involve chatting; her good mood was too baseless to survive a chat.

That line early in the novel strikes me as highly descriptive of the kind of person Rima, the main character, is. She is someone who doesn't necessarily think a chat is always a good thing. I am that kind person myself, which is probably why I wrote down the sentence. Some people always seem to be up for a chat, which to me means a friendly discussion of matters of little importance: the weather, a sporting event, an upcoming party, a recent shopping trip, etc. Others of us, mostly introverts, can often view such discussions with dread. It is partly a matter of mood, as Fowler suggests.

No one in novels watches TV.

Or in movies or television programs either, with the exception of the characters on Seinfeld. In real life, most of us spend a few hours of every day watching television. Yet fictional characters, no matter how much realism writers try to put into their stories, rarely have their characters watch television. We may find them in movie theaters, but rarely in front of a TV. I think we can all be grateful for this.

The letters were short and undemanding, and just enough like reading to substitute for reading.

By reading, Fowler seems to suggest substantive reading, that is reading a book or something with a little intellectual weight to it. Most of us probably sometimes find substitutes that are "just enough like reading to substitute for reading." This might be anything from a cereal box at breakfast to a copy of People magazine. Sometimes just buying a book or checking one out of the library can become a substitute for reading, especially if we can be seen with the book at the beach or Starbucks. In Citizen Vince, the Jess Walter novel I recently read, the main character finds difficult books and reads just the first few pages of each so he can impress a girl. It is, of course, not so much reading as a substitute for reading.

I may continue with this next time.

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