A Book Report On Cliches

Ξ November 11th, 2008 | → 14 Comments | ∇ guest posts |

This post is part of Miss Britt’s guest post challenge.  Because she?  Is a fucking moron.  In other words, she wrote this.

Every aspiring writer has to have a favorite book.  You can’t call yourself a literary anything if you don’t have a favorite author and title that you can drop at a moment’s notice.

I was 16 when I discovered mine.

Charles Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities

As I’ve gotten older and befriended smart, pompous assholes, I’ve become painfully aware of how cliche my choice is.  And yet, no matter how many books I read, I always come back to the same tired old love story when someone asks me to pin down my favorite.

For those of you not familiar with the book, allow me to ruin the ending.

The guy dies.

But more than that, the guy dies on purpose so that the woman he loves can be with the man she loves.  The man who is not, despite a shocking physical resemblance, him.

Boy meets girl.  Boy loves girl.  Boy sacrifices himself to the guillotine so that girl can spend the rest of her life with other boy.  Ah, the romance!

Ironically, I hated this book for the first several chapters.  The language is heavy and the imagery threatens to suffocate the storyline.  I never have been able to fully wrap my head around the significance of the house of footprints.  Or was it corner or whispers?  Perhaps if I’d been forced to read it in an English class with a study guide and omnipotent teacher I’d be able to tell you what the author meant.

Instead, I sobbed into a library copy, alone in my bedroom with the injustice and selflessness.  I was in awe of the idea that someone would literally die for you with no expectation of reward.  I was certain there could be no purer display of love.

I wonder how many relationships I’ve fucked up because of that book.

Not, of course, that I’d ever ask a man to die for me.  I’d just like to think that he would if the opportunity presented itself.

People tell each other all the time how much they love one another.  They profess to care about one another’s happiness and vow to do whatever is necessary to ensure said happiness.  But ultimately what they mean is “I want your happiness to the point that it doesn’t interfere with my own”.

And maybe that’s healthy.  And normal.  And the absolute best we can hope for.

In the real world, that has to be enough.  In the real world we don’t sacrifice ourselves to guillotines or unhappiness.  We strive for a compromise of mutual content.  In the real world we talk about boundaries and realistic expectations.

But in Dickens’ world, we can ask for more.


14 Responses to ' A Book Report On Cliches '

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  1. Avitable said,

    on November 11th, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Wow – I think I’m one of those smart, pompous assholes, but my favorite book wouldn’t be a classic like that. It would be something like Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

    Avitable’s last blog post..Method 4,982 to break blogger block

  2. Sybil Law said,

    on November 11th, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Your choice beats Avitable’s! :razz:
    Seriously – it’s a great book.
    I am a huge Mark Helprin fan. Still, I am not sure I can pick an absolute favorite book. I love too many.

    Sybil Law’s last blog post..Mmmm… Spam

  3. B.E. Earl said,

    on November 11th, 2008 at 1:50 am

    I prefer the Bob Guccione version of the novel. A Tale of Two Titties.

    “It was the breast of times, it was the worst of times…”

    B.E. Earl’s last blog post..Blue Blood

  4. Shelli said,

    on November 11th, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Mine is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Now, I like a lot of books, but that is the one that always comes to mind when someone asks me what my all time favorite is.

    Shelli’s last blog post..I’m So Weird

  5. Faiqa said,

    on November 11th, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Charles Dickens. Not a fan. My favorite novel? Interview with a Vampire, A. Rice. It doesn’t get any less pompous than that.

    Faiqa’s last blog post..Great Expectations

  6. Shiny said,

    on November 11th, 2008 at 10:03 am

    I still must choose Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs, a novel which came out in 1993 and, in my eyes, was a great precursor to blogging. My choice had changed, however, from what some would consider a classic: George Orwell’s 1984. And before that? As a kid in elementary school and then junior high — it became Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy.

    Dickens wasn’t so bad, though…

    Shiny’s last blog post..The Jews Killed Jesus – and other fun facts from Christianity

  7. Willie G said,

    on November 11th, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Wow, Dickens? Quite a choice. My all time favorite is Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Very disturbing. Makes me shudder everytime I think about the brutality of it.

    Willie G’s last blog post..Audacity of Hope

  8. on November 11th, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    thanks for the guest post, britt!

    personally, i am touched every day by the little prince. love that damn book.

    (and olike shiny mentioned, the hitchhiker’s trilogy pretty much rocks.)

  9. on November 11th, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    p.s. now if only i could get that damn avitable to guest post…

  10. on November 11th, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    I’m with Shelli : To Kill A Mockingbird, hands down, every single time.

    Sheila (Charm School Reject)’s last blog post..I Left My Heart in San Francisco

  11. Sarah said,

    on November 12th, 2008 at 5:05 am

    I’m agreeing with Avitable on this one. I absolutely adore The Dark Tower series. I will reread it over reading books in my collection that I haven’t read yet.

    Sarah’s last blog post..The meme where I realize my life is really quite vanilla

  12. Janie said,

    on November 12th, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I love the Bronte sisters. For me it’s a tie between Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” and Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”. I love both the plain, noble Jane and the beautiful, spoiled, selfish Catherine. The heroines could not be more different, but what magnificent stories!

  13. on November 12th, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    janie -
    our cousin laurie named her first daughter emily because of her appreciation of ms. bronte…way cool, eh?

    hello haha narf’s last blog post..Dreaming About You Lunatics

  14. Courtney said,

    on November 17th, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I have never read that book, actually. I’ll have to add it to my list. I like pompous books.

    Courtney’s last blog post..Thus Far, My Scariest Moment As A Parent

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