Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sad Books

I have always tried to avoid sad books (and movies) about war and death. I'm too impressionable, I think about them for weeks, about the world being a horrible place. The sadness seeps out into my life, and I've been too much of a wuss to handle that. I think I get that from my dad who can't handle death in movies. If he even so much as suspects that the pretty girl ( Arwen) in the Lord of the Rings might die at some point, he will pause the movie and make me tell him what fate has in store for her or he will get up and leave and furiously smoke a cigarette in his room.

I do make myself read sad books from time to time though, they just sort of slip in there somehow when I'm not paying attention. Last fall it was Paul Auster's the Book of Illusions, and after reading a few pages, I flipped it over and read " Six months after losing his wife and two young sons in a plane crash, Vermont professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in alcoholic grief and self-pity.....". Oh man. Yeah. But I still read it, and it turned out to be a really great book about a man who lost everything and found a way to live on by writing a biography of the underestimated silent comedian Hector Mann.

When I heard that Dave Eggers was coming out with a new book with the strange name What is the What, I was really excited, but when I heard that it was not like his other books, and about some guy in Sudan, I was not so thrilled. BUT I could never, ever, resist a brand new book by Dave Eggers, so I eventually mustered up the courage to read the story of Valentino Achak Deng.

As a young boy, he managed to escape from his village in Southern Sudan, where inexplicable violence took place when army forces accused them of helping the rebels. He ran off into the night and eventually joined the thousands of boys ( also called the Lost Boys) who walked all the way to the relatively safe Ethiopia. On their journey they got bombed by airplanes, shot at by soldiers, eaten by lions. Crossing the desert many boys died of thirst and hunger. From Ethiopia we follow him to the refugee camp Kakuma, in Kenya, where he lived for 10 years before getting to move to the US.

Reading this book makes me feel guilty for many reasons. One of them is for knowing so little about Sudan or Africa in general. Another is that it makes me so incredibly thankful for not being able to even begin to understand what he's been through, and that that in turn makes me happy. Reading this book is a very humbling experience, which might be just what you need when you think that you know what sadness is.

PS. Oh yeah, you will be happy to know, Ohmygodimmike, that I finally started reading The Kite Runner.


Blogger ohmygodimmike said...

Wow Laz, reading your post was an intense experience.

I was allready extremely frustrated from internet poker, and at first I thought your post was gonna be about Kite Runner, cuz you know how much I wanted you to read it in order to get over your disorder, and how dissipointed I was in you up to this point. THen as I kept reading I realized you weren't even going to mention Kite Runner. It was like salt in the wound. It hurt so so bad. I was getting ready to vent in this comment and ask you to send me the book back.

but then the ps made it all good.

I've never read Eggers but you have awesome taste in books so to show my gratitude i'll read it. That and I love crying to sad books. IT makes me feel alive but I sure as hell don't feel guilty for being white priveledge. Just kidding

February 14, 2007 5:04 AM  
Blogger ohmygodimmike said...

Now to help your father get over his disorder you have to tie him to the couch and force him to "Death of Mr. Lazarescu"

From a purely pshycological percpective.

this will work... I know these things

February 14, 2007 5:29 AM  
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February 14, 2007 2:59 PM  
Blogger Laz said...

See you tomorrow?

February 14, 2007 6:39 PM  
Blogger Grant Miller said...

I need to pick that up. Thanks for the reminder.

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