Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Letters from the Laundry Room

Classes are in full swing, and finding time to write gets progressively harder these days. I have not made a New Year's resolution yet, but I will make one now. I resolve to update my blog twice a week, barring any extreme circumstances. If you are wondering about the title of this post, I am actually typing this from inside my floor's laundry room while my clothes are in the dryer. The laundry rooms here are relatively secluded; and, while I am really starting to doubt this counter's ability to hold my weight, they are pretty good places to write.

I have not yet mentioned what books I am reading for my classes this semester, so I am designating my discussion of these works "Letters from the Laundry Room." I will try to write these only from a laundry room (though probably not from this counter...).

I have actually finished one of the books early. I do not usually like to read ahead for class because I have to refrain from mentioning those things in discussion. Most of the other students in the class will not know what I am talking about, and this particular professor does not like it. I did not mention anything from the sections we were not supposed to read yet (I swear!), but my professor still seems to know I am ahead.

I finished this particular book because, in some ways, I just wanted it to be over. Another part of me was strangely fascinated with the characters. I will not go into a review of the book until we have discussed it in its entirety in class because I find there are some parts I would really like to talk out.

The book is The Corrections by Jonathon Franzen. If you have read it, I think you will understand why this book makes me so uncomfortable. It has some very intense situations, and the plot centers around this family whose patriarch has Parkinson's disease. It became pretty apparent to me in the beginning that Alfred, the man with Parkinson's, also had some variation of dementia. A lot of the quirks in Alfred's behavior just could not be explained away through the diagnosis of Parkinson's alone nor through the side effects of his medication.

My great-grandmother had Alzheimer's, and so a lot of the behaviors were painfully familiar to me. I think what bothered me the most, other than Chip's rampant obsession with breasts and Gary's domineering behavior, was that none of them appeared to be concerned with the possibility of having the disease. I give them props because they were, in the end, concerned about Alfred (which they all should have been from the very beginning), but I just cannot understand that lack of concern for the genetic implications. Gary seems only to be worried about being depressed like his father.

It is something I will definitely be bringing up again in class discussion.

I was once told that books that make us uncomfortable can usually tell us a lot about ourselves and the society around us. What do you think? Have you read any books that make you uncomfortable? Have you learned something about yourself because of this discomfort?

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