Saturday, April 19, 2014
A BOOK A MONTH // THE BELL JAR
for april's book i read the bell jar by sylvia plath. this book is not for the faint of heart. it explores quite a depressing/hopeless outlook on life. but in a really fascinating way. it's human nature to get sad and feel down trodden — so i felt like i could relate to esther, the heroine of the book, in a small way and some of the words written perfectly describes things i've felt before — but i thought it was really interesting to try and understand a brain that actually has no desire to feel better.
i couldn't help but love esther in all her cleverness and i was wholeheartedly rooting for her to pull out of her deep funk. plus, it made it even more darkly fascinating to read up on the book once i finished it and realize it was "semi-autobiographical." i got that feeling from the beginning, but there's a disclaimer at the beginning of the book that says "this book is a work of fiction. all characters and events are a product of the author's imagination. any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental." but after reading about sylvia plath's life, i get the feeling that there's a lot more truth to this story than she may have let on.
plus, the writing was nothing short of phenomenal. her style reminded me of an even more cynical version of j.d. salinger's in catcher in the rye, so i was not surprised afterwards to read a review from robert taubman calling the bell jar "the first feminine novel in a salinger mood." he basically put my thoughts into one much more eloquent phrase than i was able to...ha but all in all if you like catcher in the rye and you're fascinated by the human psyche and able to stomach some pretty sad stuff, the bell jar is a must read.
and here are some of my very favorite quotes from it:
"i saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. from the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. one fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was ee gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was europe and africa and south america, and another fig was constantin and socrates and attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs i couldn't quite make out. i saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because i couldn't make up my mind which of the figs i would choose. i wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as i sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet."
"i wondered if all women did with other women was lie and hug."
"if neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then i'm neurotic as hell. i'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days."
"i felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery — air, mountains, trees, people. i thought: 'this is what it is to be happy.' "
"there is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends."
"i felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo."
"i am sure there are things that can't be cured by a good bath, but i can't think of one."