10.22.01 1:56 a.m. -E.M. Forster
It was not exactly that a man had died; something had happened
to the living: they had come to a situation where character
tells, and where childhood enters upon the branching paths
10.22.01 1:56 a.m. -E.M. Forster
This Entry Features: Venus de Milo, Ground Zero,
A Farewell to Arms
I have just finished Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. I know that it is not generally my habit to speak on the books I am reading, assuming that the fact that I am confessing to read them is enough as an insight into my mind. But I need to talk, so you may feel free to read.
I was under the prejudiced and frankly idiotic opinion that Ernest Hemingway was a rabid misogynist with little interest beyond the realm of masculinity. Undoubtedly a disinterested and passionless teacher put this idea into my barely operational head in early high school. Nonetheless, I was obviously much mislead.
I was required to read this novel by my very bad teacher, because he was quite likely giving a quiz on it tomorrow afternoon. Note that I am not saying I was to read it because he felt it was a worthy novel or he personally found it important and wished to share this with the class. But I digress from my crucial point.
I read the entire novel today, the bulk of it tonight just prior to writing this entry, as an effort to have my life on some semblance of a track. Little did I know that I would become enveloped in the love affair between Catherine and the narrator, so much so that I called Emily to share small passages of the dialogue between them. I felt it was highly reminiscent of our own conversations.
So, in reaching the ultimate chapters, I was unable to put the book down, even for a much needed bathroom break. I ended up shutting the book for a minute and chanting a wish that Hemingway was not taking the story to where he so abundantly felt the need. He couldn't. It wasn't fair or right to do that to me. I loved the characters because they felt tangible. I felt them in my own life, like Jungian archetypes of relationships. I could have, and likely did have, something much like this.
In the final chapter, I could barely stand to read the next sentence, or the one after. Each stung me, bled me, wrenched tears from my eyes as from the narrator's. I couldn't bear it, feeling a sensation not experienced since I read Irvine Welsh's Filth. At least Welsh was relatively swift. I sobbed loudly and uncontrollably at Farewell, attempting to muffle the sound with a flimsy feather pillow. Finally, needing to hear a familiar voice in order to slake my tears, I called Emily's apartment and awoke her from a three hours old slumber. She understood and verbally cared for me, even saying that she very likely loved me all the more for awakening her because the novel had made me weep. Good lass, that M.
Today, my father volunteered with his church to work serving food and such to the people at Ground Zero in New York City. Weeks ago, the church had given him a list of items to bring that made it seem like he was entering a third world death trap. He was to provide high boots (my old work boots), his own toilet paper, lip balm (to prevent his lips from getting burned by ash), and other dubious necessities. Furthermore, cameras of all sorts were verboten and would be confiscated. I am fairly certain he was not going to Bhopal.
I must say, for the record, that I am very proud of him. This is the act of a truly religious man wishing to help others. So many do nothing and wear their faith like a broad coat. But my father risks life, limb, and train fare to humbly help others.
He came into my room after he returned. Evidently, my mother was not quite so supportive of him, which understandably annoyed and frustrated him, as he was not asking for much beyond a nod of the head. He informed me that the precautions he prepared were largely for naught. He could have done quite well in sneakers. In addition, it was decided that camera were not inherently evil and many people ended up snapping photos. Also, today was the first day that Broadway was reopened, so the security was more lax out of necessity.
He informed my that, while he was there, the air suddenly became very sooty. It was almost like it was snowing, he reported. He later found out this was because the rescuers discovered a buried elevator shaft with thirty bodies therein. The idea of all of this death is too much for me right now, given my state, but at least that means that people will now have closure.
Soon in Xenology: I will be less morose.
last watched: the rainbow light bulb in my reading lamp.
reading: A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
listening: my mother sleep
wanting: boji stones or the money to buy them.
interesting thought: flag stickers do not prove we made it through.
moment of zen: throwing a book across my bedroom because I was so affected.
someday I must: read another book worthy of this honor. Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.