Absurdism + Depression makes for good storytelling

The Bell Jar is a classic, and classics… well, lots and lots and lots has already been said about them. I find it difficult to write about them.

There are two things that I found striking about this book. First, the visceral-ness of Esther’s (the main character’s) depression. She is depressed and Plath, who committed suicide, communicates that very effectively. Second, and in marked contrast to the downer of the depression is the absurdity of so much of the actual plot of the book: food poisoning an entire room, at least one failed deflowering of the main character, and the ridiculousness of Esther’s quasi-fiancé Buddy

In fact, these two things play off each other very well. Esther’s depression highlights the surrealism of the plot and the surrealism of the actions throws into relief just how far gone Esther is. She should be having very emotional reactions to everything that’s happening. But all the action is presented very flatly. It’s very effective.

I would recommend The Bell Jar very much. It’s short but effective.

Blonde and wealthy is a character description, not a basis for friendship

The After Party

Sometimes, writing one of these little reviews changes how I felt about a book. I found Hild even more intellectually interesting. Writing this, though, made me dislike the book even more.

The After Party would like us to believe that Joan and Cece are friends, despite us never really seeing what the connection is between them. There are friend-like moments, but Cece mainly worships Joan. It’s unclear why – the fact that Joan is blonde and wealthy isn’t a reason. These are two people who move in the same social circles and have their entire lives. They are “friends” because of propinquity. There is no real connection between the two.

(And let’s not get started on Joan “wanting more out of life” which ends up meaning… well, spoilers. But it’s not satisfying at all, and I actually didn’t find it to be “more.” It was just different.)

In short: I just couldn’t with this book.