Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Great Quote(s) - From A Book I Probably Won't Finish

They say you can tell a lot about a book by the first line, which is why I was convinced I was going to relish the one that starts like this:

"Our house is old, and noisy, and full."

Did I write that? I coulda. Except it's too short. It's more likely I would've written the next, run-on sentence.

"When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books; I expect that when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books; we also own assorted beds and tables and chairs and rocking horses and lamps and doll dresses and ship models and paint brushes and literally thousands of socks."

So, here it is, from a published author (of a 309 page book, no less) - You can make your sentence as long as you want, just be sure to use several of these ; .

Since I'm sure I've piqued your interest in the book (as mine was), I'll go ahead and type out the rest of the paragraph. Notice how adroit she is? She now uses commas instead of these; probably just to confuse her editor into overlooking the length of the following sentence:

"This is the way of life my husband and I have fallen into, inadvertently, as though we had fallen into a well and decided that since there was no way out we might as well stay there and set up a chair and a desk and a light of some kind, even though this is our way of life, and the only one we know, it is occasionally bewildering, and perhaps even inexplicable to the sort of person who does not have that swift, accurate conviction that he is going to step on a broken celluloid doll in the dark."

The book was written in 1948, when I'm guessing people knew what a celluloid doll was, but apparently weren't convicted about stepping on them.

My favorite sentence is the last one in this first paragraph.

"I cannot think of a preferable way of life, except one without children and without books, going on soundless in an apartment hotel where they do the cleaning for you and send up your meals and all you have to do is lie on a couch and - as I say, I cannot think of a preferable way of life, but then I have to make a good many compromises, all told."

It's not my favorite sentence because I concur with the sentiment. No, No!(I would definitely need some books in my apartment hotel.)

Aren't you dying to know the name of this book? - This book that I heard about on another blog and immediately ordered from amazon.com; and have saved until the week my kids were at VBS so I could leisurely read it (while awake.)

And aren't you at all curious as to why I'm not going to finish such a thriller?

I mean...Does she or does she not end up having 20 children?! Did she need stitches from stepping on the celluloid doll? Does she end up leaving her husband and kids to go live in the hotel? (and if so, how did she afford it?)

I'm not so disingenuous as to leave my loyal readers in a lurch just to get you to read my blog tomorrow (I only gave that idea a 3 second thought...10 at the most.)

The book is called "Life among the savages". Catchy title, huh? My husband thinks I'm reading a missionary biography :) The author is Shirley Jackson, a mom/wordsmith who wrote mostly for magazines such as the New Yorker and Woman's Day, but also penned 6 novels. She is known mostly for her "haunting fiction" (as if a book about child raising doesn't fit that category!)

Her most famous piece was entitled "The Lottery", which generated the largest volume of mail ever received by The New Yorker.(And I just realized it's in the appendix of this book - so I'll have to let you know if that makes it worth buying the book.) Here's what the bio in the back of the book had to say about that particular article:

"In subsequent years it has continued to spark controversy and inspire admiration - and terror - becoming perhaps the most famous short story of our time."

Here are a few other interesting tidbits from her bio -
"The mother of four children, Jackson was at once the perfect professor's wife - a successful writer, and engaging conversationalist, an energetic hostess - and a troubled woman - addicted to drinking, smoking, amphetamines, and chocolate."

Did they have to add that part about the chocolate, as if it was in the same category as the other three? Geesh. Let's see, Shall we live wild and get some M&M's tonight to go along with our bourbon and ? (I'm such a good Presbyterian I can not for the life of me think of an illegal drug to put in that sentence. The first drug that came right to my mind was "the purple pill" they advertise for indigestion, but that probably doesn't give a real big high, does it?)

Continuing with the bio..."Afflicted by weight and health problems in later years Jackson was increasingly afraid to leave her house. In 1965 she died suddenly of heart failure during an afternoon nap. She was 48 years old."

I think I've changed my mind. I'm going to finish the book. The first 3 chapters were slow, but I'm intrigued now.


Mama Weso said...

You do write a great book review. I'm intrigued. Not enough to buy the book and read it, but enough to return to your blog for more thoughts from YOU about the book. I'll be waiting with baited breath to find out if she steps on the doll with cellulite or not!

Megntally said...

Let me tell you Princess...the only high the "little purple pill" gives you is the opportunity to sleep through the night without indigestion! I consider it my miracle drug!!! No high involved!

I like this lady's run-on sentences...makes me feel right at home...except I like the ellipses better than the semi-colons.

Can't wait for the REAL review.

Anonymous said...

I just about had a heart attack when I came back to the blog and realized you had already updated! way to go!

Davene said...

If it's "The Lottery" that I remember from school days, it is...well...gripping. Although I can't remember the details of it, a shudder of fear went down my spine at the mere thought of it.

This book sounds intriguing. Maybe I'll see if I can find it at my local library.

Laura said...

Sounds like a good read while riding in a minivan for thousands of miles.

Kelley said...

Since I probably won't go through the trouble of purchasing the book and attempting to get it shipped to Brazil, I'll enjoy your final review. Personally I think you should write a book yourself...if you ever do, I will go through the trouble of getting it flown thousands of miles so that I can read it:-)