Tuesday, July 08, 2008

One of the big tasks that we've had over recent weeks has been the clearing of books from Sue's house. The vast majority of these have gone to various charities and few others to friends however quite a few have ended up with us. Currently I'm about half way through one of these new acquisitions "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers.

At first I found the density of the language and pace of the book difficult to enjoy, then suddenly after around 50 pages the richness of the five main characters in the book leapt off the page and I was hooked. Through these very different personalities we get an insight in the hard world of a poor southern town in 1940's America. That's not to say that the book is without humour, there are some very entertaining set pieces within it. It's great strength though appears to be in observing the understanding or lack of it between people. The brilliant trick of the book is that the one person people choose to spend time with is a deaf mute, giving them a chance to release their hopes, dreams and frustrations to someone who will observe what they are saying without interrupting. The really sad irony is that the one person whose approval he really craves is taken away from him, leaving him as rootless and unfulfilled as the rest of them.

The need that my sister and I have to surround ourselves with books and music is obviously a blessing and a curse. I'd love to live in sparkling modernist house with clean lines and gleaming surfaces, yet how lovely it is stumble across something that you read 10, 20 or even 30 years ago and be captivated by both the item and the memories of that phase in your life. Our house is full of CD's, records and cassettes that will never trouble an amplifier to stir itself into action again but they remain stubbornly unwilling to leave the house.

To be honest some of them should never have been invited into our hose in the first place. Sometimes I just look at them and ask myself what was I thinking. For every Miles Davies there is a King Kurt, for every Nick Drake a UK Subs, for every Sufjan Stevens a Dead or Alive and so the list goes on. Well that's not actually true I've only got one single by both King Kurt and the UK Subs, as for Dead and Alive? They used to good once, before they discovered drum machines honest they did. Well at least I thought so at the time!

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