Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

She took his hands and her eyes were shining. "And you did it," she whispered. They looked at each other for a long moment, and in that moment all was as it used to be--it was as if they had never parted; but she did not offer to go into the Darkness with him and he did not ask her.

"One day," he said, "I shall find the right spell and banish the Darkness.
And on that day I will come to you."

"Yes. On that day. I will wait until then."

He nodded and seemed about to depart, but then he hesitated. "Bell," he
said, "do not wear black. Do not be a widow. Be happy. That is
how I wish to think of you."

I'm not quite capable of really being happy with the club's fiction choices. I'm conflicted between my desire for complexity that mirrors life and happy endings that leave me feeling optimistic and gratified. At the end of Kavalier and Clay, Sammy left his family to go be gay... to live the happy life he deserved. And it made me miserable. Because I am Sammy, in a way, and I know with absolute certainty that such a move on my part would be devastating all around. It would be a tragedy despite all the back patting I would get.

Jonathan Strange had eternal darkness surrounding him. What of it? A little darkness never hurt anyone! Just drink your vitamin D fortified milk and buck up, for crying out loud! I spent the whole book in love with his wife because she reminded me so much of my own wife. I cried when I thought of her miserable and trapped in a place that was inaccessible to me--in a manner that I couldn't overcome. And then... just when the enchantments start to be defeated, they decide to just part ways and call it good? Just until later, of course. When that pesky SSA, err, darkness is overcome.

Yes, yes, I realize this is supposed to be a poignant statement about love and sacrifice and a testament to their commitment to one another. But I'm not happy. I want my money back. Oh, wait, it was a library book.

Amazingly, my wife disagrees with me about all this. If I felt that to be happy I needed to leave her, she says, she would understand. She says it so lovingly, so sincerely, so unbelievably unselfishly that it makes me want to just make out with her right there and then.

Bring on the storms! Bring on the darkness! Bring on the otherworldly fairy-demons! We'll be holding hands resolutely through it all if I have anything to say about it.


John Galt said...

You need to read Kavalier and Clay again Cap'n. The whole point WAS that Rosa and Thomas were NOT Sammy's family, they were Joe's family - he was just babysitting while Joe was away. Sammy wasn't INVESTED. That is the difference between you & I and him. We ARE invested, eternally invested in our families, our bloodline. That would the tragedy. Sammy? "Go!" is what I say...find him. Because once Joe came back there was nothing left for Sam.

Sorry, I realize this is the wrong bookclub but had to get that out.


At least I'm still reading your flipping blog.


-L- said...

I don't think Sammy wasn't invested. That's what everyone said when we discussed it at the time. But I don't believe it. Regardless, biology doesn't count as much as a marriage and a commitment to be a father.

Thrasius said...

great post...thanks for being there.