Monday, February 9, 2009

Guilt with different holidays

Current book: Kim
Pages read: 111-143

You know, one of my problems with this book so far is that there's actually very little plot. There are lots of vignettes and episodes that occur with various characters, and it seems Kim is always meeting someone new and learning something, but there's no story arc that spans the book overall. It's frustrating to me when a character simply flits from one point to another and I'm offered no opportunity to feel interest or suspense about what's going to come next.

Well, anyway, in this bit Kim spends the rest of his first set of holidays with a man who seems to be an antique and jewelry repairman and learns about both that trade and the fine art of memorizing large amounts of detail in a short period of time. (I know; it doesn't make any sense. I can't explain it. Ask Kipling.) Then we hear about how well Kim does in school over the next three years, which is quite well, especially in mathematics and history, and we find out that the holy man Kim had previously been hanging around with is still funding his schooling. They've got a nice father/son sort of relationship going on. We also hear that said holy man is still searching for his magic river. That's really about it. Like I said, not a whole lot of plot, just these little scenes where Kim meets people, does something clever, and moves on. I'm kind of bored.

On the literary side of things, I find myself remarking how many of the books I've read so far on the list are ambivalent toward religion. I'd have to say that all of them fit into that category, actually. Either it plays no important role at all in the characters' development or it's specifically denounced as worthless or unimportant. Kim is the only exception so far, but even it stresses the fact that all religions serve virtually the same purpose and none is more important than another. (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism are all remarked upon as being paths to the same kind of enlightenment. Check Kipling out, being all progressive. Full of surprise, the old limey.) I kind of like the fact that all of my books are vaguely religiously subversive. I've never been in doubt that literature serves an important purpose in the world, and I like that one of the conclusions I can draw based on this project is that part of that purpose is to question the religious status quo.

I suppose questioning the status quo in general is really what I consider literature good for, but we'll see if the project bears that out. (Maybe I'm just a crazy anti-authoritarian reader, though. Anti-authoritarian everything, actually, if you get right down to it.) I don't know; I like it best when I finish a book and it's fundamentally changed some part of how I look at the world. That's great literature.

No comments:

Post a Comment


A Clockwork Orange (5) A Good Man Is Hard to Find (4) A Passage to India (6) A Room with a View (3) A Separate Peace (2) Absalom Absalom (6) Achebe (5) Adams (3) All the King's Men (8) An American Tragedy (17) Atlas Shrugged (16) Babbitt (8) back from hiatus (1) baking (11) Baldwin (4) Baum (3) Bonfire of the Vanities (6) borderline (12) Brideshead Revisited (9) Burgess (5) Burroughs (1) canon (1) Capote (6) Cat's Cradle (3) Cather (19) cheesecake (4) Chopin (4) Conrad (5) cooking (25) Death Comes for the Archbishop (6) DeLillo (6) Dreiser (17) du Maurier (2) Edith Wharton (1) emergency (2) Ethan Frome (1) excuses (141) Faulkner (9) Felicia DeSmith (3) Finnegan's Wake (1) Fitzgerald (24) For Whom the Bell Tolls (3) Forster (19) Fowles (7) Franny and Zooey (2) Go Tell It on the Mountain (4) Grahame (2) Guest post (3) Hammett (2) Hemingway (5) hiatus (4) holiday (5) horrible (4) Howards End (6) In Cold Blood (6) In Our Time (1) Irving (6) James (25) Jazz (1) Joyce (1) Keneally (7) Kerouac (5) Kim (7) Kipling (7) Knowles (2) Lady Chatterly's Lover (6) Lawrence (26) Lewis (13) Light in August (3) London (3) Look Homeward Angel (9) Lord Jim (5) Mailer (7) Main Street (5) Midnight's Children (9) Miller (6) Morrison (1) Mrs. Dalloway (3) My Antonia (6) not a novel (4) O Pioneers (7) O'Connor (4) On the Road (5) Orlando (4) other books (7) page updates (1) Rabbit Run (4) Rand (24) Rebecca (2) recap (1) Rhys (6) Rushdie (18) Salinger (2) Schindler's List (7) Sinclair (6) Sons And Lovers (12) Sophie's Choice (10) Star Trek (1) Stein (5) Styron (10) Tender is the Night (10) The Age of Innocence (4) The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (5) The Awakening (4) The Beautiful and the Damned (8) The Bostonians (9) The Call of the Wild (3) The Fellowship of the Ring (5) The Fountainhead (8) The French Lieutenant's Woman (7) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2) The Jungle (6) The Lord of the Rings (16) The Maltese Falcon (2) The Naked and the Dead (7) The Naked Lunch (1) The Old Man and the Sea (1) The Portrait of a Lady (10) The Return of the King (6) The Satanic Verses (9) The Two Towers (5) The War of the Worlds (4) The Wind in the Willows (2) The Wings of the Dove (6) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (3) The World According to Garp (6) Things Fall Apart (6) This Side of Paradise (6) Thomas Wolfe (9) To the Lighthouse (3) Tolkien (16) Tom Wolfe (6) Triv (2) Tropic of Cancer (6) unworthy (33) Updike (4) vacation (2) Vonnegut (3) Warren (8) Waugh (9) Wells (4) Wharton (4) Where Angels Fear to Tread (4) White Noise (6) Wide Sargasso Sea (6) Women In Love (8) Woolf (10) worthy (25)