Ladies and gentlemen, here lies the origin of the songfic.
I tell a lie. I'm not savvy enough regarding the French music scene to know whether the quote on the first page is from a poem or a song. Either way, it's clear that Sagan read or listened to it, was Deeply Moved, and decided to write a Deep, Moving story to go with it. How appropriate that this was number thirteen.
I amused myself by translating it into English to the best of my ability (i.e. without bothering my ass to get a dictionary):
You are written in the lines of the platypus
You are written in the eyes of the one I love
You don't make all the misery
These lips are poorer for your denouncement
Not a smile
Love of pretty bodies
With surgical affection
Like a monster without a body
The beautiful face of sadness
Thank you for that, P. Eluard. I'm sure there's no actual reference to platypus in this, but wouldn't it be awesome if there were?
The ONE saving grace of this book was its length: 108 pages of tiny print. Read it in an hour. Any longer and I'd be homicidal, but for an hour I can be entertained, even slightly diverted. It's really, really obvious that it was written by a teenager. The writing itself has a certain clarity, which is no surprise - I'm pretty sure my writing was also clear enough at seventeen *coughA1inEnglishcough*. It's the utter confusion of thought that gives it away. The shifting tides of her attitude to Anne are fairly reminiscent of what I felt like as a teenager. It's just. I'm not a teenager anymore? And damn glad of it? So I didn't want to go there? Besides - there was a lack of objectivity that made it too much like reading a diary. Boring, repetitive and stupid, in other words. One of the tricks in writing is to convince readers you're utterly sympathetic and in tune to the plight of your characters while maintaining enough distance not to care at all, actually.
And if that didn't make the slightest bit of sense, well. Now you know what reading this book was like!
Also, I want to know how it can be 'thoroughly immoral' - jeez, way to talk out of your ass, the Times - when the sex wasn't even fade to black. Fade to black suggests something happened but we just didn't see it. In this book, only for the sex being referred to later on, I would still have no clue that it actually came to pass. In the 1950s even the French failed at porn.
I made it my own with far more conviction, I think, than if I had put it into practice. I believed I could base my life on it.
I must say I have the same tendency to cling on to cute quotes and try to apply them across the board. Of course, it doesn't work like that. I have to keep remembering that whoever said them isn't all-knowing. People who believe in God have a much easier time.
'She brought up a child; most likely she was faithful to her husband, and so had no worries; she has led the life of millions of other women, and she's proud of it. She glorifies herself for a negative reason, and not for having accomplished anything.'
For some reason this got me to thinking about the depersonalising element of the names 'Mom' and 'Dad.' Because they apply, or will apply, to nearly every human being on the planet. Of course, that's just it: kids need the stability of knowing things are the same as they were yesterday and will be tomorrow. It's the first and biggest lie we learn. 'Glorifies herself for a negative reason,' though - it could apply to so many things. I'm so stealing it.
How difficult she made life for us through the high esteem in which she held herself!
Yup. Cecile is a turniphead. Class dismissed.
Previously, on Book Glomp 2008:
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Love in the Time of Cholera
Oscar and Lucinda
Breakfast at Tiffany's
To the Lighthouse
On the Road
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance