Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oh! Hello!

Well, I didn't mean to be gone for a week but there it is. My Dad came up from Florida for some business and stayed with us for a few days. It was a great visit and I didn't get much reading or computer time in.

I did watch a fantastic film last week, The Inheritance, based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri. I didn't read the book first, though I proably should have. The movie was wonderful, absorbing, touching and beautifully filmed. It certainly fed my recent interest in books set in India and I particularly enjoyed the scenes filmed there. I have found myself trying to understand the 'class' system in India. I suppose, in the way that I understand the one here in the US. I know what poverty here looks like, the various interpretations of 'the middle class' and of course the wealthy. I want to know what that looks like in India - what defines a middle class household - education? jobs? conncections? background? - and what is their place in society. Does that sound strange? I've just always had this desire to know how people live, how they really live. I suppose that is one reason I love books so much, because I can be transported.

After my last read, I thought I could use something more upbeat so I decided to reread The Bell Jar, the autobiographical novel by Sylvia Plath. I'm kidding. My bookclub will be discussing this on Thursday. The Bell Jar is such a moving and frightening portrayal of mental illness. At the beginning, it seems a typical young woman's coming-of-age story about Esther Greenwood. But it is soon apparent that everything is not as it should be. I think this book is important because the layreader - that is to say one who experiences everyday ups and downs really gets a picture of what real depression looks like. How debilitating it is, and how its sufferers are held in its grasp, seemingly helpless. As much of a stigma mental illness has now, it's hard to imagine what that would have been like in the 1950s. Certainly frightening, considering the drugs used, and electroconvulsive shock therapy. I couldn't help thinking of poor Rose Kennedy, given a lobotomy and sentenced to a life as an invalid. The life of a young woman, exhibiting unstable behavior who doesn't respond to some of these extreme therapies is horrifying. Fortunately for Plath, she survived this early bout with depression, but her recovery was not a permanent one as we know.

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I'm feeling kind of lousy today, you know, when your child gets sick and you get it from them only it's 10 times worse? It's that sort of illness...no sympathy desired, just an explanation for my activities for the rest of the day. I'm going to try watching The Jane Austen Bookclub - have had it from Netflix for weeks now. I'd like to read today too, if my cloudy mind allows. I finished another book last night (review to come) and for the first time in a while am not in the middle of anything. I feel like returning to India so perhaps that will be.

13 comments:

Jeane said...

The Bell Jar upbeat? Wow, your last book must have been really depressing. But I love this book myself, and have read it several times. It's so dismaying and so poignant and actually funny. I like the part where she eats caviar with her fingers... Sorry to hear you're ill, hope you feel better soon.

Bybee said...

I love the part where Esther goes to the movies right before the food poisoning hits and she's not sure if she's sick because of the food or the bad movie she's watching. It reminds me so much of when Holden Caulfield summarizes a movie in Catcher In The Rye. I'd love to have them both over for a Bad Movie Marathon. We'd have such fun slagging away at the action onscreen.

nutmeg said...

I really enjoyed reading your comments on both A Fine Balance and The Bell Jar. The first book I have had on my tbr pile for an age AND I have heard it is good from a number of people but my bookclub had an Indian novel reading binge a while back and I haven't been able to go back - but I know I will return to read this one.

I haven't read The Bell Jar but I liked your comment about one feeling everyday ups and downs but really getting an imprerssion of what real depression is by reading something such as this. In this way, I think this would be a good book for me to read.

I hope your sickness doesn't pull you down so low you can't read! Hope you feel at least a little bit better soon.

BooksPlease said...

I struggled through The Bell Jar. I agree that it does give a picture of what real depression is like. I'm not sure whether it made me feel worse or relieved - I think it's a miserable book really, so I suppose that means it succeeded. As you can tell I'm not really a fan.

I hope you'll be feeling better soon.

Pink Lady Bug said...

Oh dear Tara, I am sorry to hear you have been unwell. I had The Bell Jar on my reading list, but I am not sure if I am too keen on it anymore.

StuckInABook said...

I wasn't actually that impressed by The Bell Jar - mostly because I was expecting it to be a very different style, I was expecting Woolfesque writing, I suppose. A sad book.

I really enjoyed The Jane Austen Book Club film (not so much the book) which I reviewed a while ago on my blog - it's not very serious, but quite fun.

Hope you feel better soon, Tara!

Tara said...

Okay I just responded to everyone and blogger gave me an error...let's try again.

Tara said...

Jeane, the last book I read was really depressing but I was being sarcastic - maybe that didn't translate! I agree, there are very humorous parts. Thank you - I'm drinking loads of tea and lying around.

Bybee, I enjoyed that as well. Also the part when she winds up at the man's apartment and is not sure what to do.

Nutmeg, I'm curious what India books your bookclub read. Thank you - I did get some reading in yesterday -light reading though.

Tara said...

Booksplease, yes, it is an incredibly sad book. I doubt I would have read it again if it weren't for bookclub. Thank you.

Pink Lady Bug, thank you for your kind words. I wouldn't dissuade you from trying The Bell Jar if you are interested in it.

Simon, I can see your point. I read it for the first time when I was quite young and had no preconceptions. I did enjoy the film yesterday - I think more than the book as well. It was a good sick-day film to watch. Thank you!

Lisa said...

I know what you mean about wanting to know how people really live. I don't really care about a plot as much as I do finding out about the characters' lives. I haven't read either of the books that you mention, but I would like to read The Inheritance. I have always been fascinated by India.

Iliana said...

Hope you are feeling better Tara! I missed The Inheritance when it came out in the movies so I need to get the DVD.

melanie said...

Glad to hear Inheritance was worth watching, I wasn't such a fan of the Namesake movie. Bell Jar is on my list for this year, gonna have to move it up :)

Tara said...

Jeez, Melanie, I'm such a dolt! I meant The Namesake - I liked it! Sorry to hear you didn't.