Sunday, October 30, 2005

Our attention is diverted.

Dear Readers:

Have you seen the posts from the - I presume - gentleman named "Manley"? He writes well enough, but I'm wondering if he's wandered into the wrong class, so to speak. He wants Dreiser picture books, coffee table books and in one post he asks about a Dreiser tour guide for the Erie Canal. I think that reading - all reading - is something to encourage in an increasingly visual society where information and "knowledge" can seem to arrive instantly via the Internet and television. But I'm at a loss about comment or advice for Mr. Manley, actually, a sense of unease that extends far beyond trying to answer whether or not CVS sells Dreiser's novels. I think Mr. Manley has a boat. It's possible that while working on his boat or waterskiing or keeping his head under the water to watch the propellor spin, perhaps Mr. Manley was in some way afflicted, resulting in a condition that still hasn't resolved completely. I just don't know; complete sanity is not one of my strong points. Another possibility is that the waterways in which Mr. Manely floats are not the purest and that various mind-altering volatile compounds affected him. We'll retain his posts. Perhaps a more clinically trained reader can offer some help. In the meantime, please advise if anyone sees any of Dreiser's novels at Super-X or Costco or Sam's Club. I'm sure they are there.

But now, all seriousness aside, let's turn to Ms. Noe's delightful and well written comments. Thank you. Please keep us posted about works by Alexander McCall Smith.

As I noted in a previous posting I finished Sister Carrie last weekend. It took a while. Not nearly as long as finishing An American Tragedy which I had to renew many times (although I also had to renew Carrie...). But Sister Carrie is an easier book to read. The actual sentences, the words chosen, are not as complex and tightly woven.

For those of you who haven't yet read Carrie, the book tells of a young woman who goes to Chicago to find work. It's not easy - her struggle itself is one of Dreiser's messages. Carrie does find work in a shoe factory but she becomes ill, misses work and is fired. So she starts looking again and runs into a fellow she met on the train that first brought her to Chicago. He's a nice enough guy, although our author literally describes Mr. Drouett as "a masher." Drouett is a successful salesman and he gives Carrie money. Then he starts buying her clothes. Then, when she can't stand living with her provincially minded sister and brother-in-law, who largely like having her around because she pays $4 a week for rent, Carrie lets Mr. Drouett set her up in an apartment. Then we learn that she and Mr. Drouett are, indeed, living in that same apartment. He establishes the lie that Carrie is Mrs. Drouett.

Dreiser masterfully presents the non-choices, the dilemmas, for Carrie as she struggles. The Chicago winter is approaching and Carrie has no coat. She has no food. But here is Mr. Drouett, very friendly, he's not threatening or demanding, with the offer: just take some of my money, Carrie, pay me back when you get work. Carrie has no choice; she either maintains Victorian propriety, and starves or freezes or both, or she takes Mr. Drouett's material offerings. She has no strong feelings for him. If there is any intimacy in their relationship it's not overt, quite possibly because even such a Platonic relationship was scandalous enough for the year 1900, when Carrie was published.

More later - remember, it's a long book.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are a stuffy boring cunt

10:08 PM  

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