Monday, January 26, 2015

Books and boo-hoos for breakfast

Many tears these last few weeks.

Repaso (2015), by Mona Lisa P. Cajucom/Adam David (editor)

Last week's book haul at BLTX 6 at Uno Morato
The collection, purportedly of the entries (literary notes) in a diary of a young suicide, is book-ended by a sort-of-introduction and a kind-of-afterword by the book's purported editor. It is the introduction and afterword that I found most compelling--the first, a purported statement of the text's unusual (mysterious?) provenance; the last being a meditation (a real one, not merely purported, or so it seemed) on depression and survival.  How many works on depression have you read that don't come off as patronizing, trivializing, infantilizing, or performing in some similar way? This is anything but self-help. If it seems to perform ultimately as a confessional piece, it does so in a manner that tries very hard to subvert the the centrality of the self (and therefore its isolation) in the narrative of a depressive. The confession, in fact, is made in the texts framing what purportedly is the main text. This makes Repaso worth reading and thinking about.

The last sentence of the book was written in a completely different in tone from the introduction and the rest of the afterword. A false note to suggest that the book/collection is not all that it purportedly is? Would it matter if it weren't? It might, if you were one of those who went through past issues of National Geographic to find photos of the bridges of Madison County, after reading a certain book named after these structures. Or not. This is not that kind of book after all.

Personally, though, I still prefer to think that Mona Lisa P. Cajucom really did live and create the dagli and notes sandwiched in between the preliminaries and afterword.  Otherwise, the collection loses the source of its power--the situation of her suicide, the failure which allows the editor to meditate on depression and survival. If she really did exist, I'd rather that she survived--of course I would. It doesn't even matter that Repaso would never have been published.

But if she didn't, if she were simply an invention, a device, a trick,  a soapbox on which one could speak about depression and art...I'm not persuaded. If Repaso is about escaping the isolation of the depressive self through art, wouldn't the fiction of a dead body lie in the way of the author ultimately seeking connection with her/his reader/s? The editor's meditation on depression is powerful in itself.

Repaso is published by the independent small press publisher, Youth and Beauty Brigade and is available at Uno Morato

Landline (2014), by Rainbow Rowell

What would you do or say if you could ring up your husband back when he was still your boyfriend? Given what you know about your future together, would you persuade him to stay with you, or stay away? The best parts of the novel are when the mid-30ish protagonist relives her youthful love with her ex-boyfriend over the telephone or in her mind. It's an interesting premise, but in the end, there are no clear resolutions in the protagonist's muddled mind, even if she and her husband reunite (for the time being, it seems).  And so while this is a tearjerker with an acceptable ending, it isn't completely satisfying.  Plus, the hot husband is way too passive and why this is remains a mystery, both to the protagonist and to the readers. Worst of all, the time-travel element that makes the novel so interesting in the first place is explained away as a mystery so brusquely on the last page. I wish it were more than a simple plot device. But then again, maybe that would make Landline a completely different novel.

Annie (2014)

The soundtrack alone moves one to tears. The film doesn't come close to a live performance of the musical. But it's a really good translation of the 1980s Annie to suit the new century's America.  The updated soundtrack also has way more swag, which almost balances out the emotionally manipulative script-and-soundtrack combo.

No comments:

Post a Comment