Friday, June 24, 2011

Learning to Let Go

Of what, you may ask, are you learning to let go, Ms. Strainedconsciousness?

Because you are grammatically correct, you do not end your sentences with prepositions. Good for you!

I am finally letting go of books.

Or some of them, at any rate.

When I make my big move to Houston at the end of July (eep!) I will only be able to take 2 of my 3 stunning bookcases with me, and that means I must either A) rent a storage unit for my bookcase and its attendant books; or B) temporarily house my bookcase at my parents' home and cull the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

I really don't want to pay for storage, and seeing as I'm clearing a huge drafting table out of my parents' house, my mother and father have graciously offered to allow my bookcase to stay with them, rent free.

Major Tom Shadowmaker is looking forward to having a friend / bookcase with whom / which he can discuss the trauma of being abandoned by yours truly.

In case you have not noticed, dear reader, I am quite obsessive about books and reading. I began reading Shogun - all 1,210 trade paperback pages of it - for the second time on Sunday. I am on page 622, as of dinner-time tonight.

That's about 100 pages per night, give or take.

So going through my books... it's difficult. I have a few stacks on the floor that will definitely be carted to Half-Price Books, and there are a few sitting on an almost empty bookcase because I can not make up my mind.

It's infuriating.

They are books I have only read once. One - The Elegance of the Hedgehog - I am waffling about because it was so heart-wrenching that I do not know if I will be able to read it again. At the same time, it was beautiful, poetic, a masterpiece of writing - and more impressively of translating, as it was originally written in French.

The second book - Suite Francaise - was also disturbing, but beautiful. I'm not sure if I want to get rid of it because... well... I read about World War II a lot. I don't necessarily read about the actual battles, or the politics of them, but I do read a lot about tangential figures of the war, such as Unity Mitford (one of Hitler's close friends and an Englishwoman. Also the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire's sister).

I've read Maus, the graphic novel about WWII wherein the Jews are mice and the Nazis are cats.

And yes, I've read the two-part biography of Hitler available in every Barnes and Noble bookstore, the open possession of which once prompted a less literate friend to ask why I had read it.

I wanted to shake her, to shout: 'Why have you not? Why don't you want to know about the evil that can happen in this world? Why don't you want to understand it so that, maybe, we can help prevent it happening again?'

The books are part of my trying to come to grips with the ease with which a society can turn its back on one segment of the population, demonize them, and attempt their eradication. I don't understand the concept of hate, how people can turn their backs on a whole segment of society.

Back to Suite Francaise, a book written in the midst of the Nazi occupation of France, not published until it was discovered in a suitcase and made public sometime in the last decade (I want to say even the last five years). It tackles the more difficult issues, those not written about very often: the French who allowed their chateau to be turned into a sanitarium for ill children that was then occupied by the Nazis; the chaos of the French as they fled south from Paris, hoping to reach safety; the emotional and social turmoil of a Frenchwoman, her townhouse occupied by Nazi officers, when she falls in love with one of the Nazi officers and is ostracized by her neighbors.

I'm still not sure if Hedgehog will make the cut, because just the thought of it makes me want to cry, but I think I've decided about Suite Francaise: it's coming with me to Houston.

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