They Really Wrote That?!--Valentine's Day Edition

Published by Wexter in the blog Wexter's blog. Views: 144

I mentioned in the previous entries working up to 20th Century literature. Well...this one is actually from the 21st Century, and it is pretty bad. CAUTION: This entry is not for the squimish (I.e., wait until after dinner to read this one). Not kidding here--just keep telling yourself, "it's only highly-acclaimed literature".

This Week's Entry: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

The award-winning author's follow-up novel to The Corrections, features a family from Minnesota and divides the narrative between different family members. This entry focuses on the young college-aged son, Joey, and his adventures in South America with a young, beautiful woman. He does, however, have a problem: he had actually married another girl the week before and had somehow mistakenly swallowed his wedding ring.

And thus I present to the reader his solution:

In his shaving kit was a kitchen fork that he'd brought for the extremely disagreeable task ahead of him. He sat clutching it in a sweaty hand as his shit slid out of him. There was a lot of it, two or three days' worth[...]He knelt on the cool floor and peered into the bowl at the four large turds afloat in it, hoping to see the glint of gold immediately. The oldest turd was dark and firm and noduled, the ones from deeper inside him were paler and already dissolving a little. Although he, like all people, secretly enjoyed the smell of his own farts, the smell of his shit was something else[...] He had no choice but to lift out each turd and run it through his fingers, and he had to do this quickly before things got too waterlogged[...]

After being forced by the situation to use both hands, he finally retrieves the ring.

I must admit I really don't care for this novel due to most of the characters being unlikable (I could and I might write a critical blog on this book alone) and overall being vastly inferior to The Corrections. As for the above scene, I quoted it not just to gross people out (though that's fun too), but I actually think this is one of the better passages in the novel. It shows the unpleasant lengths a character will undertake to retrieve an item that symbolizes his love and commitment to another human being. As disgusting as it is, given the right context, it can be a damn-near poignant gesture.* That's why I felt it appropriate given the warm and fuzzy holiday coming up this weekend. Love is a willingness to do things out of the ordinary when required to by a significant other. Maybe you should ask the person you love if they would be willing to do something like that. Then again, maybe you'd be willing to do something even more repulsive than that, like take them to see Fifty Shades of Grey.

Have a Happy Valentines Day!

*Along with this, it also becomes a turning point and defining moment in the character's life.

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, was published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and was used within the dictates of the Fair Use section of U.S. copyright law.
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