An Epic Experience

An Epic Experience

In preparation for our annual books and music issue, I have attempted to better myself culturally by reading Remembrance of Things Past, considered by many literary critics to be the most brilliant novel of the 20th century written by a guy named Marcel.

Proust’s master work is 3,000 pages long, and I’m pleased to report that, after only six weeks of daily reading, I’m already up to page 32. (Yes, I’ve hit a slow patch, but I expect the author will pick up the pace in the last 2,968 pages.)

It’s taking me a while because The Narrator—a wealthy French boy waiting anxiously for his wealthy mother to kiss him good night—is describing, in exhaustive detail, the objects in his bedroom. This technique is used so that the reader, presumably in preparation for major surgery, can fall into a deep French expressionist coma. Either that, or it was the writer’s way of introducing us into the young man’s world which, given what he’s describing, would take a really long time to vacuum.

Not to second-guess one of the last century’s greatest novelists, but I wonder if the story might move along a bit faster had the boy’s bedroom suddenly lit up with the piercing floodlights of a hovering helicopter, and ninja-garbed figures rappelled down and crashed through the windows. This would have the valuable literary effect of scaring the crap out of the kid and taking his mind off his momma. It would also propel the reader into the next chapter, which hopefully would include political intrigue, betrayal, and a car chase.

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Sojourners Magazine November 2005
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