I finished “Love In The Time Of Cholera” last week and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I still think the writing is beautiful. I liked the pace of the story. The characters were interesting. But I am bothered by something and I can’t get past it. It is written about so casually and that bothers me. In the story Florentino, the hero, starts an affair with the child he is taking care of. She is underage, like around 14. It’s gross. I really bothers me and I can’t get past it.
I am also bothered by the whole theme of the book. I’ve decided that this is not a book about love at all. It’s a book about obsession. Florentino’s life long obsession with Fermina made me sad.
Just some random thoughts.
I forgot to mention last week about another book I read during my break from my Sylvia Plath obsession. It’s called “The No Bullshit Guide To Depression” by Steven Skozen. Really great book if you suffer or if you know someone who suffers from depression. It’s very practical with exercises that are easy to do when you are in that state, and exercises to do before you are depressed, that will help you out later on.
One of the bits of advice was to learn how to live a life that strives toward values, rather than happiness. And then there was an exercise to figure out what your core values actually are. They change, so it is suggested to do the exercise once a year. My core values as of a couple of weeks ago are:
- inner peace
I found this exercise really surprising! There were lots of things that ended up being really important to me but these 5 things are the things that are at the top of my list. At least right now. So I’m thinking about how I can incorporate these values more into my life on a daily basis. I kind of do a lot of these things daily but I do notice it when I don’t.
I put aside the intense dive into Sylvia Plath for a bit and picked up a few other, more lighter reads. I was home sick a couple of days this week and reread “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck,” by Mark Mason which I really liked a lot (both times). There is lots of wisdom imparted in a light-hearted, funny way.
Last week I was helping a patron with the Overdrive app, and in the process I downloaded a couple of books to demonstrate how it worked. I ended up downloading a couple of books that I wanted to read. One of them was a kid’s book called, “I Survived The Eruption of Mt St Helens.” I previously read “I survived the Shark Attacks of 1916” and loved it, and book talked it a lot last year. This one wasn’t a great as the shark attack one, but it was still pretty compelling. Especially so since St Helens is practically in our backyard and I remember the eruption like it was yesterday. I think the series in general is really great for reluctant readers, or kids who just like action adventure.
The other book I downloaded was the audio version of “Love In The Time Of Cholera.” I read this about 20 years ago and have been wanting to reread it for awhile. I am currently about a quarter of the way through it and so far I love it more than I loved it the first time.
I finished “Her Husband” last weekend and dived into “The Unabridged Journals Of Sylvia Plath” this week. I have to say, I really wish that this was the first thing I’d read about or by Plath. About 25 years ago I read The Bell Jar which I loved, but very soon after I read a biography about her called, “Bitter Fame” written by someone who didn’t seem to like her. It’s been a long time since I read it, but I remember putting the book down and thinking that Plath was just a crazy lunatic. Which is really sad, considering I’ve found myself battling depression over the years. I look at her now as someone I can relate to just a little bit. I really feel that way reading her journals. I am at the very beginning of this book and I am loving the Plath I am seeing in these pages. She is a young woman just at the beginning of adulthood, finding her way. She has really amazing insights and observations about life. The best thing about this book, though, is the writing. She truly was an amazing talent, even at a young age. Her journal is especially wonderful because she is so open and uninhibited. I feel like there is something slightly contrived about her poetry, like it’s a little bit stiff (if that makes sense). So far in her journals, that feeling is not there. It feels pure, unfiltered.
I’ve also been thinking about the fact that these journals are available for me to read, and whether or not this is OK. I’ve been thinking a lot about how Ted Hughes had control of her estate after she died and controlled how her poetry and journals were published posthumously. I think about how much money he made off of her poetry. Is this OK? Is this something that Plath would’ve wanted? Would have Plath wanted the world to read all of her journals in their entirety? It all seems a little bit exploitative. I mean, she is no longer with us, but still.
Still working my way through “Her Husband.” Really enjoying this read. I have checked out the Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath and am reading them as Middlebrook references them.
In the book I’m at the end of Plath’s life, which is really sad. But this is also when she wrote her groundbreaking poems from Ariel: Daddy and the poem from which the book got it’s title. I have a greater appreciation of her work after reading this book.
I’d like to read the Restored Edition of Ariel to get a feel for how she actually wanted the book to be published, as opposed to how Ted Hughes thought it should be published.
I am also really enjoying reading Birthday Letters along side this book, as well. I didn’t mention this last week, but Birthday Letters is a collection of poetry Hughes wrote about Plath in the years after her death. It’s basically a biography of their relationship in verse, from the perspective of Hughes. Middlebrook sort of uses this collection of poetry as a jumping off point for the book.
All of this poetry reading has made me interested in writing poetry! Over the years I have collected a number of poetry writing books and I’ve never cracked them open. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve cracked one of them open. I am inspired to at least read these books! Whether I will have time to actually write is another story.