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May 28, 2006


You were just determined to hate that book from the outset. I am beginning to think that you might have appalling taste in literature, Tristram notwithstanding.

That's an absolute lie and gross mischaracterization.

Would you like to talk about it?

Plus I seem to recall that you liked At Swim-Two-Birds, of which I am a big booster.

Yeah, but you said you wouldn't. and actually I'd probably need to have a look at the novel to refresh my memory.

I did like that. But even the proverbial stopped clock is right twice a day. So far, you're right on target.

I would like nothing better than to talk about it with you and all my other readers (who number, I'm sure, at least in the fives) here in this forum Six Apart is kindly letting me use. Please, take some time to reacquaint yourself with the text if you like, only not too much time! I have a poor memory, after all, and don't know how much longer the details will remain with me.

Is the theme of all art, particularly literature, the reflexive one that, hey, you can do something with potentially useless or bad stuff, mistakes/wrongs/suffering/awkwardnesses--namely, turn it into art?

I would be very surprised. But one could grant or deny that without thereby thinking that such making art righted wrongs, cleared up awkwardness, lessened sufferings, excused mistakes, or anything like that. (I'm no Freudian, but it seems like the trauma interpretation would fit that idea pretty well.)

Wouldn't the notion that you are an artist or potentially an artist add another layer of meaning to these things in the act of them? Which could possibly influence the experience of them, making them seem less arbitrary or out of your control?

That's pretty different from saying that the theme of the art you produce is your ability to have produced it. But it does seem to be Briony's experience:

It made sense, surely, to see if the twins were there, fooling about with the hoses, or flaoting face-down, indistinguishable at last in death. She thought how she might describe it, the way they bobbed on the illuminated water's gentle swell … There was nothing she could not describe: the gentle pad of a maniac's tread moving sinuously along the drive, keeping to the verge to muffle his approach
and so on (from the beginning of chapter 13).

Actually, I could live with a reading of the novel on which it was an indictment of Briony.

Nan Talese, that bitch, she's the one responsible for foisting the whole "Million Little Things" fiasco on us.

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