R is for Read

Brenna lent me her copy of The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing with a warning, "if it makes you feel bad stop reading it" of course I found this a challenge, and like Infinite Jest, I set out to finish a novel no one I had talked to had finished. The truth is it did make me feel bad, terrible actually but it was so damn good I couldn't let myself stop. Doris Lessing really knows how to tell it like it is, the dark undermining of the brain commingling with the heart causing physical and mental fluctuations. The book is simple but complicated so I've decided to use the wiki plot summary to save myself from rambling on and on and trying to explain the structure.
The Golden Notebook is the story of writer Anna Wulf, the four notebooks in which she keeps the record of her life, and her attempt to tie them all together in a fifth, gold-colored notebook. The book intersperses segments of an ostensibly realistic narrative of the lives of Molly and Anna, and their children, ex-husbands and lovers--entitled Free Women--with excerpts from Anna's four notebooks, colored black (of Anna's experience in Central Africa, before and during WWII, which inspired her own bestselling novel), red (of her experience as a member of the Communist Party), yellow (an ongoing novel that is being written based on the painful ending of Anna's own love affair), and blue (Anna's personal journal where she records her memories, dreams, and emotional life.). Each notebook is returned to four times, interspersed with episodes from Free Women, creating non-chronological, overlapping sections that interact with one another. This post-modernistic styling, with its space and room for "play" engaging the characters and readers, is among the most famous features of the book, although Lessing insisted that readers and reviewers pay attention to the serious themes in the novel.

Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007 and this video makes me love her ever so. It shows that her ideas about writing have not changed 1962 when she wrote the Golden Notebook and stated the following:
'About five years ago I found myself thinking about that novel which most writers now are tempted to write at some time or another - about the problems of a writer, about the artistic sensibility. I saw no point in writing this again: it has been done too often; it has been one of the major themes of the novel in our time. Yet, having decided not to write it, I continued to think about it, and about the reasons why artists now have to combat various kinds of narcissism. I found that, if it were to be written at all, the subject should be, not a practising artist, but an artist with some kind of a block which prevented him or her from creating. In describing the reasons for the block, I would also be making the criticisms I wanted to make about our society. I would be describing a disgust and self-division which afflicts people now, and not only artists.'

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