Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hello, Midge? You there?

Hell you been?
Here, just busy.
You still readin'?
You going to post somethin' soon?
Yessir, just finishing two books right now.
Good. What's the hold up?
Just got a recession busting job and I been busy, thass all. Not going to let the whole thing slip just yet.
Good. You let me know.

The Midge has been floating in the fray and reading as much as possible, but a new gig that runs in the evenings coupled with a few trips out of town has made finishing Jazz and The Crossing quite a feat. I had to stop in and let my millions of fans know that I will be posting both novel reviews as soon as possible and I am not going to let the Midget die so soon. Happy V Day and Happy Black history on the lookout for new posts, thanks.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

1984: George Orwell

Finally. Now I know what all the talk is about. Big Brother is so much more than let on by the cheap uses by politicians and news media swine. The power of this novel is truly undeniable. It is the most translated novel period according to John Rodden's The Politics of Literary Reputation, with translations in sixty-five languages. The uses of other terms from the book beyond Big Brother including: doublethink, thoughtcrime, and ultimately Orwellian, the term based on the totalitarianism written about by Orwell in both this novel and Animal Farm (which I did read in high-school) and is in the Oxford Dictionary, say it all on this topic. Period. Therefore, I will stick to the story and my personal review and feelings of it. From the jump, Orwell brilliantly takes the reader into the "future" and makes them feel the oppression of The Party. I found it extremely hard to endure the second half of this book because I dearly and enthusiastically wanted Winston to somehow overcome the impossible odds. The diary represents a certain freedom and even the space in Mr. Smith's apartment where the tele screen can't see him is special. His paranoia and desire to thwart the powers that be are so easy to immediately identify with and Orwell masterfully puts the reader inside Winston's troubled head. These atrocities which are so precisely executed by The Inner Party and so easily swallowed by the members of The Outer Party enrage the mind of the 20th and 21st century reader. Certainly, the American reader with his strong ideals and beliefs in the power of freedom and each individuals god given right to be free. By the time that things are starting to look up and Julia enters the picture one finds himself elated at the prospects of what will come in books two and three. When the two characters finally flee the eyes and ears of Big Brother and meet at Julia's hiding place in the forrest to make love it is a thing of beauty. Even Winston's declaration that the more she'd done it and the higher number of partners the more it turned him on due to the power of numbers against The Party and that the act was solely to go against The Party- the hatred of which bred all of his lust- could not ruin the heat in Orwell's love scene. Fiery and passionless lust the very description of which is an act of doublethink. Oh, but how far your feeble joys will fall, dear reader. Mr. Orwell will soon show you that Winston was right all along and knew his own fate. Even that of Mr. Syme. The only surprise would turn out to be that Parsons would find himself among the ranks of the thoughtcriminals as well. And to my dismay Mr. Orwell will illuminate that before we even met Winston his fate was already laid before his feet. That the very diary he'd purchased a few weeks before the first page  had already incriminated him if his own face had not betrayed him to the telescreen long before. Or perhaps some small whimper in the night through dream. Oh, but the rabbit hole goes much farther than that...This book is certainly a must read and it's place in history is solidified it's line on every literary list saved. The books of January are now closed and on to February the midget must trudge. Thanks.

You can read 1984 online for free.... George Orwell's 1984

John Krakauer: Into the Wild

January was the month of McCarthy and Krakauer for the Midget. Two works hailed as classics and claimed by many scholars and buffs to be "must reads" were also completed and enjoyed. They being Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, an unforgettable piece, and the next articles focus, 1984. Every book read in this first month of the project was one that was on my mind for a long time and felt extremely good to slowly start, become entangled in, and ultimately discover what all the fuss was about. I was not let down in any manner. This second Krakauer report was actually well known to me long before I'd ever heard of Into Thin Air. I vaguely remembered being struck by the news of the Everest disaster in 1996 when it was all over the media for a quick minute, but that's about it. Into the Wild, however, is one that I remember seeing in the homes of a lot of people of different ages over the years since it was first published. Friend's and their older brothers or parents, aunts and uncles, many people, seemed to hold the book in the highest esteem and sternly bade me to read it every time I inquired. Once. I even picked it up maybe 10 years ago and read the first chapter. I was convinced I would go purchase and read it based on how enraptured I was by the opening description of Chris McCandless' end. Didn't happen. When the movie was under production I was again reminded of this story from my uncle who had read the book when it first came out and felt a close connection to McCandless. As a former crazy Tahoe youth and daredevil downhill skier and mountain adventurer my uncle Patrick easily took the book to heart and probably relived many close calls from his early twenties. He became even more involved with the prospects of the movie when he found out that Sean Penn had contacted out dear family friend and best friend of Patrick's, Jerry Hannan, to write a song for the soundtrack. Jerry, who often plays Irish folk tunes and his own brand of gritty California folk and Americana at our family parties ended up working in the studio with Eddie Vedder to record his song "Society," which was featured in the movie and considered for an Academy award. (note: Jerry told me that Vedder was an extremely nice guy and actually was the one who fought hard and eventually put his foot down when the production company tried to fuck Jerry out of his copyrights and thus residual pay for "Society.") So, having the soundtrack and having seen the movie long ago I finally set out to read this book and fill in all of the blanks in the story. It was tough to read at some points. I will once again admit that I cried at least once while reading this second Krakauer book (what will happen if I decide to go get his newest book on Pat Tillman?) These tragedies are true and extremely well reported and descriptively told and therefore beyond difficult to swallow. Did I feel any personal connection? Well, I admittedly once tried to hit the road at 17 during my freshmen year in college after reading On The Road. I caught a Greyhound to Chico and I can remember more than anything the feeling of flying and freedom that welled up inside after I had purchased the ticket and was happily eating a bagel and flipping through vinyl in downtown Santa Cruz. I figured I would head up to Chico and work in a restaurant for a few weeks of months then take my cash and hit the road down to Arizona to stay with my brothers. I had this ridiculous idea that I could just bounce from college town to college town and stay with kids I knew from home or else find new friends and eventually make it out to the east coast for a while. Didn't happen. I didn't even make it a day. I didn't have the talent or skills of Chris McCandless and I certainly hadn't been out alone on the road before or to the east coast at all nor did I have a real plan. I broke into and slept in the house of some friends who were out partying and drunkenly saw me sleeping on their couch when they stumbled in a 3am and then I rose in the morning before anyone was awake to return to the bus station and ride down to Oakland where I called my mom and was picked up and taken home with my tail up my ass. Does this and other small and silly adventures make me feel a real connection with Chris? Only in a very small way. A wistful kind of connection to the human spirit and the spirit of a young man maybe, but I would never compare any crazy stunts I pulled to what McCandless was capable of and actually did. Sure, I like many young men felt at times that I was indestructible and risked my health and life for adrenaline and cheap thrills, but he was a brilliant young mind who ventured way farther out on the ledge and the seemingly small mistakes that were enough to end his life are extremely saddening. Sometimes the world just cant handle a young person like Chris. They are so full of life and touch so many people and experience so much that nature, or god just decides they've done enough. It's sad and it always seems to be the most special breed of person, but Chris McCandless remains immortal in the spirit of youth, adventure, and American excitement. Rest in Peace.