Monday, July 02, 2007

A Personal Matter

So I was perhaps a bit optimistic about my emotional state yesterday. I found the whole day more than a little miserable. I'm still not as distraught as some Sabres fans seem to be, but then it would probably take the death of a family member to get me to that point. I still like Regier and am still willing to wait and see how the team performs next season. But I will say that being all, "oh, I'm reading this really depressing book, so at least it'll provide perspective," was pretty damn stupid. Because between the book and the emotional beating of seeing the team Sabres fans have so adored for the last two years lose both captains, I'm feeling pretty wrecked. Also, I really wish my roommate wasn't out of town because if she was here we'd watch Midsummer Murders and chat and I'd feel better. But enough of this whining!

A Personal Matter is a wonderful novel. Just truly great literature. It's one of those books that reminds you that most of what you read is not great. But it also kind of made me feel like bits of me had been put through a blender.

One of the toughest things for me to read is always disgusting physical descriptions of people. Now it's perfectly possible that I am just incredibly inobservant, but I never look at people and see this. There just seems to be such a visceral level of disgust for the human body. I'm not complaining; it's vital to the book. But it was a particularly difficult aspect of what was a trying read. At the same time, the novel had moments of incredible beauty and clarity. And the greatest of these, for me, was when Bird, the protagonist, first sees his damaged son.
My son has bandages on his head and so did Apollinaire when he was wounded on the field of battle. On a dark and lonely battlefield I have never seen, my son was wounded like Apollinaire and now he is screaming soundlessly...

Bird began to cry. Head in bandages, like Apollinaire: the image simplified his feelings instantly and directed them. He could feel himself turning into a sentimental jelly, yet he felt himself being sanctioned and justified: he even discovered a sweetness in his tears.

Like Apollinaire, my son was wounded on a dark and lonely battlefield that I have never seen, and he has arrived with his head in bandages. I'll have to bury him like a soldier who died at war.

Bird continued to cry.

--A Personal Matter, Kenzaburo Oë

It's just an absolutely perfect passage.

No comments: