Sunday, May 21, 2006

Notes From Blogground

Oh Lord, it's hot. Up until this week, I'd fooled myself, saying we'd peaked as far as heat, this isn't so bad, all these pussies complaining about the weather should cram it, etc. Now I'm pouring sweat at 9:30 pm despite an air-conditioner at full throttle and lamenting to an empty room that I ever left Colorado. I'm watching the Oilers-Ducks and drooling over that cold, soothing ice. Those commercials where the train of lousy beer plows through and brings sweet relief to all the overheated citydwellers no longer seem ridiculous -- rather heavenly.

Anyway.

#15: "Notes From Underground" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

With the trip to St. P coming up later in the year, it seems appropriate to brush up on my Dostoyevsky -- a "Crime and Punishment" reread will probably come soon. It's shameful that it's taken me this long to read "Notes," given that it's about 130 pages, but my copy was left in a friend's SUV one drunken night and for a long time it served as an unfortunate reminder of unfortunate behavior.

But we're reviewing the book, not my personal habits, aren't we? I feel like a philistine of the highest order saying this but the first part of the book largely left me cold. Brilliant writing, of course. But...

Some years back, I had a conversation with my friend fredoluv about some band or other, in which I lamented that I hadn't heard that band before I'd heard all those that took their chops and ran with them. (It may have been the Birthday Party, which in a bit of beautiful symmetry, I've had on the CD player a lot lately.) The trailblazing band didn't seem terribly new or interesting after hearing all the groups that had followed.

Same problems, different medium with "Notes." Bitter alienation is such a staple of fiction now that what was undoubtedly groundbreaking at the time now seems like old news.

Happily, the second part picks it up a bit -- abandoning the manifesto form for a more traditional narrative, which I'm apparently better placed to handle. A sly wit, too -- I laughed out loud several times.

It struck me as I read this that Dostoyevsky's "Underground Man" would find himself much more at home in the early part of the 21st century. He's a bitter, twisted man, unable to directly take on those who upset him, finding slights in whatever he can. If he were around today, he'd just start a blog.

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