Disappear here

It’s been quite a summer. I’ve moved across the country with my wife to start a PhD. I’ve quit my job. I’ve taken on a new identity- doctoral student. Progress.

Before I delve into the maelstrom of academics that is a doctoral program I decided to catch up on some pleasure reading. I wanted to remind myself that people do read for pleasure.  I read three books within the last 3 weeks:

The Catcher in the Rye– J.D. Salinger

Less than Zero– Bret Easton Ellis

Lunar Park– Bret Easton Ellis

If you know anything about the above books/authors then you know I am probably in a weird head-space right about now.

I picked the above books at near random- The Catcher in the Rye was given to me for free by a friend in Athens just before I moved, and I have the two Ellis novels as leftover Christmas gifts that I never read. Despite the lack of purpose in my choosing to read them they are all connected by a similar theme: Identity. In each of these books the main character is trying to identify himself. And, in all three, the main character is at some point of transition- either flunking out of school, returning home, or trying to transition into fatherhood.

The Catcher in the Rye and Less than Zero are the most similar. Being lost. Lonliness. Self isolation. It’s clear that, reading through these novels, Ellis has taken his cues from Salinger. Similar styles, stream of consciousness at times. Colloquial language. They both write in a way that draws you in. However, they both have a tendency to come off as entitled. Scenes of private prep schools, private liberal arts schools, excessive materialism, lack of value for relationships. Where Salinger is whiny, forever searching for some deeper meaning from a highschool dropout, Ellis is loquacious, often giving erroneous descriptions of a luxury car, household décor, names of people at parties.

Lunar Park, while tackling some similar themes, is different. It’s quite a strange novel, to say the least. I’m not even sure if it is a novel, or if it is a memoir, or some kind of horror filled yet hopeful wish.  Whatever label it should fit under is irrelevant as I’m sure the real purpose is to help Ellis work out his own inner demons (no pun intended) with his deceased father. It was a good novel to end the trio.

It’s poignant that my life, my identity, is also changing, is changed. In a way, I identify with all the characters here, I am these characters. Yet, I am not. In Less than Zero the antagonist, Clay, says all that matters “ . . . is I want to see the worst.” I don’t. Okay, I do, but that’s another blog post. Right now I want to see the best. I want to see the best in myself.

Where the characters of the aforementioned novels are filled with hopelessness, I am filled with hope. I am ready for this next stage of life. I am ready to achieve my best.

I appreciate all the readers who follow my blog. This was a heavy post, but a needed post. My writing may diminish in the coming months as much of my energy will go back into school. But I will be sure to post, I am trying to adhere to a once a month minimum, even if that once a month is just a photography post.

I hope you are achieving your best. If not, I hope you are on your way to it.

Thanks for the read.

-ASG

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5 thoughts on “Disappear here

  1. Great read Andrew. That is a ton of transition for you and Angela in a very short amount of time but it’s encouraging to see you move on to the next chapter and tackle it together.

    I’ve read Catcher in the Rye but neither of the other two. I’ll probably check one out though because I’ve been looking for a good novel to delve into. Which one of the Ellis novels would you recommend to start with?

    I love what you had to say about hope. Reminds me of Shawshank (Yes, I reduced your intellectual blog down to a movie quote) when Andy says in his letter to Red, “Hope is a good thing… maybe the best of things.” I’m not sure I want to live in a world without hope. I’m not sure if one can really exist. It seems like every “movement” by some extremist group to crush the hope of a people or a nation (i.e. Almost every conquering “hero” in history) that hope somehow survives.

    One thing I have dealt with in my limited experience with Law Enforcement is seeing the darkness, or the worst side of people, including myself. It’s amazing how powerful the mind is and how we can change from a positive optimist to a pessimistic, almost robot-like individual by what we surround ourselves with.

    Kill it up there in NY and I’ll be keeping up with your blog.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Less than Zero is kinda like a modern day Catcher in the Rye, but with more cynicism and materialism. Kinda depressing. I wouldn’t recommend Lunar Park because it references his other novels, Less than Zero and American Psycho frequently, and without having read those you’d be kinda lost. I think my next read (whenever that’ll be) will be a Cormac McCarthy novel, probably The Road. It’s also a killer movie. It’s weird who keeps in touch and who doesn’t- you’re the only person who ever contacts me from CFA with the exception of the random Daniel Laurine text. Thanks for keeping in touch!

      1. Also, I echo your sentiment of seeing the dark side of people. I probably haven’t seen the same dark side that you have, but working as a therapist I definitely saw the sick side, the hopeless side. You do have to guard yourself or you find that you will also sink into that mindset. It’s a slow drain, but it happens if you aren’t vigilant. Let me know, btw, what you decide to read. I have to throw in a vote for one of my favorites- The Shining. It’s pretty fat, but it’s a real easy read.

  2. Yeah you’re the only person besides Josh Starr I actually talk to. One of the only ones I liked enough to keep in touch with. I haven’t seen the movie but I did read McCarthy’s The Road. It’s pretty incredible. Let me know what you think about his writing style. It takes some serious getting used to with his lack of quotation marks in conversations. It gives the whole piece a muddled feel and I think that’s exactly what he was going for. A stripped down version of an Apocalyptic novel with simple ideas and even simper writing. I am a fan of Viggo Mortensen so I have wanted to see the movie but have never gotten around to it. Thanks for the recommendation, I will check out Less Than Zero.

    Also, I’ve been writing stuff but haven’t put any of it up anywhere. I need to get going on this WordPress thing.

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