Moving swiftly on... So, this week, we got to meet the lovely (excuse me, 'lovely') Gary and Caroline, eldest son and daughter in law of Enid and Alfred and all round terrible people. At one point, I did take a note that said 'Gary's not depressed- he's just an asshole', and while I stand by the second part of that statement, I'm willing to accept that he is depressed, but for very specific reasons- such as, his mother says things that make him dissatisfied with his life ('oh, you work all day and then do the cooking too? Doesn't sound right to me' THANK YOU ENID, FEMINIST ICON) and he's not as rich as he should be, and and he can't be right all the time even though he'd love to be and ARGH.
And then we get to the worst parents of them all, and was it just me or was it more than a tiny bit heartbreaking to see tiny Gary and Chip have to deal with their parents' moods and unfairness and also their complete-refusal-to-do-anything-except-what's-expected-of-them-to-the-detriment-of-everyone-around-them, yes I'm looking at you Alfred
"It was in their nature to throw their arms around [Alfred], but this nature had been corrected out of them. They stood and waited, like company subordinates, for the boss to speak."And it broke my heart just a tiny bit because those poor boys who just want to hug their daddy but they can't because he's an asshole and waaaaaaaaah
Edward Scissorhands just wanted to hug people too.
And no. I don't think we just let that explain away everything that these grown up people who make their own decisions do now, but I don't think we can just let it go either because the way you're brought up does have an impact on the way you behave, because that's kind of the context you exist in- Gary exists in a context where his dad should have made more money but wasn't bold enough, because that's all Enid ever talks about, and Chip lives in a context where he really likes boobs for some reason (yeah, I don't know either...)
Just to finish things off on a really happy note, can we talk about the part where Alfred rapes Enid? You might think I'm being kind of strong by using the word rape here, but by my calculations, Enid says no FOUR different times, and still Alfred has his way with her, feels guilty not for raping his wife but for getting his, ahem, fluids over his unborn child and vows to be nice to it always (thus giving a really easy explanation for his relationship with Denise). Which, fine, whatever, but REALLY Franzen? You're using rape as a means to character development of the rapist while Enid just stays silent about it? Fab.
On to the next part. Hopefully there aren't anymore marital rapes, because CHRIST don't make me smash things.
He wrote about TALKING POO?! Franzen is on my blacklist of nobby authors who I won't read and this just confirms I am right with my judginess. If you're going to be a nobby author, at least write about something high-minded, not poo. Also the marital rape, he's probably one of those men that think that doesn't exist.ReplyDelete
Honestly, Ellie, I don't think any of us could believe it. AT ALL. It's just... There's such an air of like superiority and high-mindedness (in the baaaad way) around him, and then he goes and WRITES ABOUT TALKING POO. It's like the least smart way to do hallucinations, ever.Delete
I can't even with the marital rape. I don't know if he doesn't think it exists (hopefully not...) or if he just doesn't consider what he wrote as marital rape, but it really really really was. Damn, Franzen.
I love the title of this post - is it a quote from the book you are writing about? I kind of want to read it now but I also kind of don't, it doesn't seem like an *easy read* but sometimes that's good right?ReplyDelete
It is indeed a quote from The Corrections... But it's maybe not as, um, positive as you might think. Or at least I don't think so! And non-easy reads can sometimes be good, yeah, but this isn't SO hard... And definitely not as hard as Franzen thinks it is!Delete
I am also confused as to how anybody, including Franzy, can take him so seriously when he's written about talking crap. I mean... that is not high-brow literature there, no matter WHAT context it's in.ReplyDelete
Somehow the rape thing didn't even occur to me. That whole situation was so fucked up... she's crying, then decides to use fellatio to talk him into a financial thing she wants him to do, and then he decides to shut her up by having sex with her, and then he's thinking about his unborn daughter (eww) and jesus christ, there aren't enough "WTFs" to go around in this book.
And why in god's name does Franzen refer to Alfred's junk as a "faintly urinary dumpling"?? What is WRONG with him? Oy.
If I thought of Franzen as someone who doesn't take himself that seriously, I think I could have accepted the talking poo and been like 'aw, he's having fun with his writing' and it would all be fine. But he's so pretentious and up his own arse that it's like 'and THIS is what you write about? REALLY?!'Delete
That whole situation WAS fucked up. Just... No, to it all. I'm a lot more concerned about the fact that he was RAPING HIS WIFE than the whole 'jizz over his unborn child' thing (cause... is that even a thing? I mean, I guess technically it is, but it's not a thing people worry about, right?!) But just no. NOPE.
Ughhhh dude there are so many like words and phrases for junk and sex and whatnot in this that I'm constantly going 'ewwwwww' about, but I never have any paper around to write them down so I forget them! This... Is probably a good thing. Hahaha
I am going to have Mr. Hankey's song stuck in my head for daaaaays.ReplyDelete
OK, so Enid telling Gary it doesn't seem right he works all day and then does all the cooking. So...I sort of agree with her? Not because "Women should be doing the cooking" because OBVIOUSLY not what I mean. But more "Oh Caroline, you're the one who is home and not working full time, perhaps you could take on this chore." Except she's terrible so of course she won't.
I forgot about that scene where tiny Gary and Chip just want to hug their dad but they can't because Alfred is a horrible person and he treats them like employees, even when it does sorta seem like he does love them. He just buries it. Which is dumb. They're all dumb.
Ok, SO I also don't necessarily disagree that the person who's at home more should do more around the home (because, you know, makes sense) BUT but but Gary literally says that he ENJOYS cooking mixed grills (which, btdubs he does like once a week so whatever) UNTIL his mum is like 'oh, she makes you COOK?' and then he's like 'hey yeah, I shouldn't have to do this' and GAHHHHHH. Not that Caroline isn't also terrible. Everyone is terrible.Delete
I can't even with Alfred. It's all like 'I love that boy!' and then it's like 'But I can't show affection in any way or I'll DIE.' Fucking fuck fuckety fuckers.
Well Gary likes making his mix grill but it seemed like he was doing ALL the family cooking. Caroline didn't seem to do much except for be the boys' best friend by letting them watch lots of TV and buy lots of expensive shit they would use once and never againDelete
Well... SOMEONE really hates Caroline! (She is a dick though, obvs. AS ARE THEY ALL)Delete
If I actually sing the words "Mr Hankey, the Christmas poo!" in the shop WITHOUT REALISING IT (because really, who doesn't sing to themselves all the time?), I blame you lot. On the plus side, it would *cough* vacate the shop nicely for a while... :PDelete
FIVE MINUTES LATER: I already did it. I JUST SANG IT. THEN CAUGHT MYSELF. Fortunately the shop hasn't opened yet, so I didn't have to blush and hide under the desk forever and ever.Delete
Oh man, I'm so glad we started this. SO. GLAD.Delete
Oh, Ellie! :D If anyone queries your choice of singing, you can always call it advertising this book. Though it does sound pretty dreadful...Delete
I couldn't even bring myself to talk about the rape scene because by the time I got to those notes I was exhausted from my other rants and *sigh* it was really, really horrible. Every new sections just makes me think 'yep none of these people should interact with each other or other people ever'. The world would be infinitely better if they all lived on separate islands. Or just died.ReplyDelete
They should die. All of them. Your 'Christmas in St Judes Massacre' is absolutely how this book should end and even if it doesn't, I'm rewriting it so that it does. Fucking fuckers.Delete
I don't think I made it past the first chapter of this book. It was so NOT my style. Good for you for sticking with it?ReplyDelete
Haha, why thank you! If I might... Defend (?!) it slightly, the first chapter is the WORST cause it's all like 'I am writing literarily, look how literary I am' whereas after that it gets a bit more messy and, you know, readable. Which is a relief!Delete
1) I am never reading this book.ReplyDelete
2) I AM, however, going to obsessively read along with your readalong, because DUDE if that isn't the best way to find out about these things I don't know what is.
3) Thanks for reading it for me!
1) Good plan.Delete
2) I feel like we're summarising it in the best possible way, ie with a lot of shouting. Best.
3) Hey, what are friends for? You'd do it for me :)
Agreed! I have no intention of ever opening this book, but your readalong posts (also Sarah's) are extremely entertaining, perhaps the bloggy highlights of the moment. Seconding the thanks for reading it so that I can be informed about what I'm not missing out on.Delete
Bloggy highlights, you say?! Well, that's the best compliment I've gotten all day! You're so welcome for me reading this for you. It's what I doooo.Delete
Also Alley's posts. Sorry Alley!Delete
I'm glad even people not taking part in the readathon are enjoying these posts. Cos really, there are a lot of WTF moments that transcend having to read the book to appreciate them.Delete
At this point I have no idea how to react to the fact that we all just wrote posts about talking poop. Somewhere, Franzen is chuckling sinisterly to himself.ReplyDelete
That's basically all the energy I have left to talk about this section... This one was kind of exhausting.
It was loooooong and kind of stressful and then there was a talking poo and I think we all just lost it! As well we should, because WHAT?! Ridiculous.Delete
Okay so I lied; I do have more to say. Re: everyone being bad parents, I think Gary actually isn't a terrible parent (or, at least, he's better than the rest of them). He does seem to genuinely care about his kids' well-being, and he spends quality time with them, and he actually attempts to set reasonable limits (like not allowing his eleven-year-old to set up cameras to creepily watch their kitchen [what the fuck is that??]) that are unfortunately subverted immediately by Caroline so she looks like the good guy and he looks like an asshole to his kids.ReplyDelete
And Enid slightly gets a pass from me for being a bad mom, because she's clearly in an abusive relationship and can't handle standing up to Alfred. In the scene with Chip at the table, I can understand why she won't interfere or make Alfred deal with it, since it was just a few hours earlier that Alfred was screaming at her and breaking glasses because she had the nerve to not put them away promptly. So even though it's shitty to not intervene in that situation for Chip, I do understand why she felt it was best for herself to ignore the whole thing and not get in the middle of Alfred's anger.
I sort of got the feeling that the reason Enid didn't deal with Chip was because he was Al's favourite, so by torturing Chip she was also torturing Al. That whole section was depressing as hell though, they'd all be much better if they moved to different corners of the globe.Delete
Yes, I agree with all of this. I don't think Gary is the WORST parent. Look at him with Jonah. It's sweet. He's trying with the other kids just to have Caroline undermine him all the time. And I agree with your description of Enid and why she didn't interfere with Chip. It's not a good response and it doesn't make her mother of the year, but it's understandable.Delete
Rayna, I see alllllll your points. I guess Gary is kiiind of a good parent, but his constant game of one-upmanship with Caroline (both of them are definitely doing it) is TERRIBLE and can't be good for the kids and it's just baaaaad. I mean, yeah, Caroline is probably worse, but still. They're both involved, and Gary isn't some innocent bystander to her games.Delete
I seriously see BOTH yours and Kayleigh's points for Enid, so now I don't even know what to think! I guess, that Enid is in an abusive relationship but she doesn't only not want to get yelled at again, but she also wants to hurt him back?
WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE SO TERRIBLE?!
Ug, how did I forget to talk about the rape scene? That was fuuucked. And it extra sucks, because Enid's only sexual "move" is to lie passively while Al bangs away. Add that to the fact that Enid SO OFTEN doesn't say what she means - my actual note was "Was that rape? It was unpleasant as fuck, that's for sure." Damn you, Franzen, for making me question whether it's really rape even though she said "no" multiple times! So upsetting and gross and damn you, I say again.ReplyDelete