6/24/12

What Books Say About People Pleasing

I distinctly remember only three passages from Animal Dreams. One is in the first chapter, when Homero sees his children "curled together like animals whose habit is to sleep underground, in the smallest space possible." He decides that "their labors at deceiving him are as careful as surgery." Another is when Codi and  Emelina fall into an obvious tourist trap, a cave system. Emelina says all of the stalactites look like men genitalia. The last one, I don't know why I remember; it's not even that important, some filler tacked onto the middle of a chapter. I can't relate to a lot of Kingsolver's writing, but this passage I can fully understand.
I was suddenly disgusted with what I was doing. I'd go anywhere Carlo wanted, I'd be a sport for my students in Grace, I'd even tried to be a doctor for Doc Homer, just as I'd humiliated myself in the old days to get invited to birthday parties. If I kept trying to be what everyone wanted, I'd soon be insipid enough to fit in everywhere. I grabbed my bag and stood up to go. I told the man, "You don't have the slightest idea who I am."
John Green wrote an entire book about this. Paper Towns. Green is more about indulging in his own intelligence than crafting remarkable prose, but the subject matter is the same.
All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I've lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters.

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