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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Alice I Have Been

Alice I Have Been is a novel by Melanie Benjamin that I read last night.  Lewis Carrol's attraction to children (which apparently was a torment to him) was so powerfully and tragically written that I had to turn to Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy to wash the (extremely well-portrayed) creep factor out of my brain.  I think that the greatest tragedy portrayed in this book was not Carroll's life as a social misfit, but how guilty Alice felt for growing up; it seemed a betrayal, of Carroll's idealization of her and in the book, she bears the weight of this guilt all her life. I am of two minds regarding recommending this book: either a strong "yes" or a strong "no" would suffice.  Still, the writing is gorgeous, and the difficult subject matter tackled with an unsparing and unsentimental eye, especially the negative effects (guilt and sadness) of Carroll's attentions that lasted til Alice Liddell's death.  I ended up feeling immensely sad and sorry for Carroll, wishing he could have better fit into society somehow (I was immensely sympathetic towards the drudgery of his mathematics lectureship, too--no fun and probably very boring for a person of his creative imagination).

On the other hand, I am tackling as many of Cormac McCarthy books in the next year as I can (except for Child of God-that's too much, even for me).  I am now reading Blood Meridian (or:  The Evening Redness in the West--heck, I want to give my new novel two titles, which would be cool).  I also plan to read the Border Trilogy (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain).  The reasons I like McCarthy are manifold:  the language!  It's simply beautiful the way McCarthy turns phrases, as if he lathes and polishes each line.  He writes on an Olivetti typewriter that cost eleven dollars, eschews the limelight (though he did give a pleasant interview to Oprah, albeit on his own turf), and says that his best days are spent writing.   He spends his days with non-writers, too (actually scientists--apparently McCarthy is an amazing mathemetician and enjoys science, and likes a Bombay Gibson once in awhile).

Anyways, that is what I have read, and am reading.  I am going to spend some time tonight with the Course in Miracles, so I will post my Sunday update on this later tonight.