When I started filling up this challenge (and the other), I was looking ahead to a month with not much to do. I hate that kind of stupor, so writing about a book and a song each day seemed like a good routine to keep the mind from sinking. That plan has gone for a toss, of course, and I don’t particularly regret it.
Anyway, back to the subject of this post. To begin with, if there was a book whose protagonist was very much like me, I doubt I would’ve even been sitting at a desk in an ad firm (which is infinitely better than sitting at home and festering under the weather, nevertheless) writing this post. Well… no, that’s not strictly true. The best books are often written about people who are not particularly interesting in themselves. There must be books about people whose lives are quite like mine, and I’m afraid most of these books would be chick lit. I have not read them. The only chick lit that comes to my mind is Bridget Jones’ Diary, and I don’t feel like Bridget Jones at all. Which brings me to the point — do you fill this query with a character whose life is most similar to yours (and then, how do you manage to see your life whole?), or a character that feels the most like you?
This is a difficult and depressing book. Last year I gave it to R to read — she likes most of the books I like (and more) — and she didn’t take to it at all. Most people don’t. But all I remember feeling at the time of reading The English Patient was the overflowing relief at the fact that someone has written such a book at all. That such a book can be written, that such characters can exist and are acknowledged, that it makes you just a little less strange, which is a false sense of comfort, of course, but it’s better than many other things. I write of that particular kind of madness that springs out of intense misanthropy and intense ardour, the kind of life that’s lived by one’s own obsessions and creates its personal godheads, when your entire existence is one continuous act of worship. As I read this novel I divide my first-person loyalties between Almásy and Hana, who are both its protagonists, who are more similar to each other than you may care to think. I think Almásy wins out most of the times — with his heartlessness and his possessed love and his affinity for deserts and the way he turns history and philosophy to music — but at times I can’t really tell. :)