I'm in the middle of the first book of Ian Toll's Pacific War trilogy, but had to pull out due to an over-saturation of anguish. I stopped somewhere before the Bataan Death March. I just can't deal with it right now. It makes me angry and depressed. I should just skip ahead to Doolittle's Raid or the Jap repulse at Port Moresby or Midway. But I decided I would just come back to it when I'm feeling stronger. I'm getting pissed off now just thinking about it. I only hope these Japs and the Soviet NKVD types got their just desserts. That's all I'm sayin'...
In contrast to Phantom, the writing in MacKinlay Kantor's Spirit Lake was its saving grace. Despite the vacuity of the novel, I enjoyed the journey for the writing style. The theme was strictly a bankrupt product of the 20th century, however -- bleak, hopeless, meaningless. The Indians were portrayed as two distinct types: The good Indians who had the morals and sensibilities of 1950's-era Iowans; and bad Indians who were of the massacring variety. Eye-rolling stuff.
Worse were the settlers. Not a likable one among them. The only one who came close was the doctor character but even he became overwhelmed by a repulsive, animal, demeaning lust in the end. I also had hope for the Frenchman, but he was given an atypical backstory (to say the least -- it was actually quite absurd) and then faded into the background after a couple hundred pages of buildup.
But none were worse than the only overtly Christian character in the book, who, naturally, was depicted as a buffoon. As I said, this book says so much more about the 20th century than the 19th it's a little embarrassing for Kantor. You have to remember Kantor made his living in Hollywood. In the end, his story is of a sad waste of talent. But at least he had talent, I guess. How many of his ilk didn't even have that.
The book that has captured my attention this week is E.T.A. Hoffmann's The Devil's Elixir. So far, so good. It's funny, I have a million cool things to do, but I really look forward to bedtime, as that's when I do all my reading. Bedtime can come pretty early sometimes.
Hoffmann, you may recall, is a German writer from the early 1800s who wrote "The Sand-man" (the tale which provided me the characters of Coppelius and Olimpia for use in My Clockwork Muse) and "The Nutcracker". His stories tend toward the phantasmagorical -- which means they tend toward awesome. Poe was a fan of Hoffmann. Me, too.
I'll leave with this bit of wisdom, from Little Feat (my new favorite band) and their song "Time Loves a Hero." Now, the Feats are no Nietsche, but in this little snippet of lyric, they offer something worth thinking about.
Well they say that time loves a hero
But only time will tell
If he's real he's a legend from heaven
If he ain't he was sent here from hell
Hear me well
Seeing ain't always believing
Just make sure it's the truth that you're seeing
Eyes sometimes lie, eyes sometimes lie
They can be real deceiving