Saturday, July 07, 2007

Trying to Read


My beloved Palm T|X came with, among other things, a copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

I got the T|X model Palm because it has a very large screen, at least by the standards of most mobile devices. On it I read The Art of War, The Prince of Tides, The Time Machine, The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford which became the movie Full Metal Jacket and many other short stories. I have been trying, however, to read Little Women for the past year. I'm not having trouble with the big words, or the antiquated language, I'm having trouble with the way this woman writes. It's like reading a Disney-fied version of an ABC After School Special, written for approval by Mr. Rogers to be presented at the annual meeting of people who faint at the sight of passion fruit. I can only read a few pages at a time before I become nauseous. Fortunately, listening to Marilyn Manson for a while cures that.

It's like Louisa May Alcott had to write a story up to a certain word limit, and in her first draft she was 10,000 words short, so she threw in a bunch of adjectives and adverbs. Then gave it a once over with a thesaurus just for good measure. You know, the same way you wrote when you were in grade five.

Currently, I'm at the part where Jo and Laurie are becoming friends. Don't tell me if he gets to tap that, I want to find out for myself. It is now my mission in life to finish this work. I'm not saying when I'll finish it, I'm just saying I'll finish it.

I imagine poor Ernest Hemingway creating his own writing style as a reaction to having to read this in school. I also assume his suicide and Hunter S. Thompson's are related to this school era trauma.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.

Hunter S. Thompson: Why the &*%$#@ not?

Louisa May Alcott: The chicken, in a rapturous mood, set out from the coop, enjoying the first light from the benevolent luminesce of the beautiful, bright, golden yellow sun. The happy chicken fairly danced as she made her way along the gently curved path lined with moss covered, trees born in a foregone era, whose leaves dripped morning dew onto the prolific, verdant vegetation below. The smell of the morning air, seemed to burst with the fragrance of delightful flowers and filled the little chicken's heart with jubilation. Though other little chickens carried satchels with lovingly made sandwiches of baloney, and chorizo sausage, this little chicken had roast beef. Some of the other chickens also wore the latest frocks, but this chicken did not need that vainity and was content with her hand-me-down dress. Though the colours were faded, the merry pattern was still evident, and the chicken felt as fair as any chicken could. The little chicken, full of good cheer, looked forward with ebullient passion to the joyous, beatific opportunity to traverse the road for the sheer and unequalled thrill of being on the other side.
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