Books 3/10/04

In the last couple of days I finished Hercule Poirot’s Casebook– 700+ pages of Agatha Christie goodness, some of which I’d previously read; Diary by Chuck Palahniuk, which I think is his best work yet; and Where You Once Belonged by Kent Haruf, a book I picked up from the library because the title reminded me of a song lyric that I still can’t pin down.
It turned out to be a very interesting book to read directly following Diary. Both are about small towns and the interplay of individual vs. community- what it takes for communities to survive. Where You Once Belonged is a very interesting character study, a look at what happens in a community when people get used to getting by not on merit but inertia; when the fangs are directed at the undeserving because the deserving have left town. In Diary, people are dependent on the legacy they’ve been left, the cycle of violence that keeps their little island prosperous. In the same way as the people of WYOB, they get by through inertia, waiting for destiny to happen, for the “woman who paints” to save them.
Other un-put-together thoughts on themes in Diary– ( I love the way Palahniuk’s books are full of social criticism, but never outright – he lets you pick through and figure out what you think. Or maybe he’s just lazy, who knows.)
Cycles we set in place for the future, the legacy of violence, of dependence: Because of the cycle that has been put in place the people of the island are never taught responsibility, never made to take care of money because they know it will be replenished. They hate the Summer people and feel helpless against their “invasions” of the island, yet don’t do anything to stop them- just keep on living their “destiny”.
Art as danger to artist and viewer, the power of art to destroy- rather way people use art to destroy both artist and viewer.
What we hide- anger, the truth: All of Peter’s anger and his truth, unspoken in life, is scribbled on the walls of the closed off rooms- Misty finds the truth hidden in the pages of the books in the library.
Use of art to create freedom, but is it freedom? : Misty draws as a child to free herself from her humdrum life, seeing everything so clearly in her imagination that real life becomes dull in comparison. Is this freedom, or a greater trap? Later, her art is so captivating that people can’t stop looking at it…

Current total: 19
Just finished:Where You Once Belonged by Kent Haruf
Next up: to finish We Love Glenda So Much by Julio Cortazar, then The Society of Friends by Kelly Cherry

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