Blogged Out Ma Nut

Emoticoning but with letters.

Madame Bovary - Mark Overstall, Malcolm Bowie, Margaret Mauldon, Gustave Flaubert There are two kinds of poor writer smugflourishes that I don’t like:

1. The aimless simile. “Life is like a cat. You’ve got two of them and it has fur on the outside! Badum-PSH” I’ve got some constructive criticism, a great way to improve those is delete them and come up with something original.
2. Using “There are two kinds of” as an emphatic opener. There’s not two kinds of anything.

There are two kinds of classic [1]:
1. The true classic- you open it, there are words in it, that’s generally a good start, then it comes alive. The characters and setting are here as they always were and always will be. [b:The Idiot|12505|The Idiot|Fyodor Dostoyevsky||6552198], [b:Wuthering Heights|6185|Wuthering Heights|Emily Brontë||1565818], [b:Moby-Dick|153747|Moby-Dick|Herman Melville||2409320] (sans waxing whaleskull anatomical), [b:Candide|19380|Candide|Voltaire||2833018], [b:The Brothers Karamazov|4934|The Brothers Karamazov|Fyodor Dostoyevsky||3393910].
2. The dusty bookshelfer- you open it, there are words in it, it’s really boring, undeniably so, but after years of climbing its way up the ivory shelves of pretention, nobody will admit it. [b:Anna Karenina|15823480|Anna Karenina|Leo Tolstoy||2507928], [b:Crime and Punishment|7144|Crime and Punishment |Fyodor Dostoyevsky||3393917], [b:Madame Bovary|2175|Madame Bovary|Gustave Flaubert||2766347] [2].

By the way, how any of these books are going to find a new audience of young people without being honest about this categorisation is beyond me- a (95 percentile, okay? We’re not all Mozart McEinstein Bachspeare) 15 year-old picking up [b:Crime and Punishment|7144|Crime and Punishment |Fyodor Dostoyevsky||3393917] without anyone warning them that it's dull would have got 5 pages in, said "Gave it a shot! But I want to invest time in my other hobbies of drinking and smoking." Finding the right classic is not easy and not a first time thing. The saving grace of these latter classics is that a good deal of external in of and about reading will bring them alive, perhaps more so, than the immediate ones, but we do have a greater fondness for the permastories than the permamessages.

So don’t tell me you enjoyed the story of Madame Bovary, because you’ve already heard it like a gajillion times. But if you read it slowly, if you stopped to soak in the metaphors here and there, closed the book and your eyes sometimes until you saw what Monsieur Bovary’s house looked like, the full layout of the buffet, the cornicing of the opera house, you can tell me that you loved the book. For whatever reason that wasn’t something I was interested in doing, but I can appreciate the power that the words hold and their capacity to come alive with the input of the reader.

For those many readers like myself who some days don’t want to put anything in, it will seem boring. But it’s an illusion borne of laziness. It’s not a book you can pick up whenever, it demands your time and energy. It’s clearly fantastic, but I give it three stars for the mismatch of timing and reader.

Silly bitch.

The review is over but here’s a disconnected anecdote about my mum on a plane (with Bovary spoilers). I was a wee baby on a plane crying and crying and a fussy dude kept tutting and looking over, then sticking his nose back in a pristine Madame Bovary. Not much my mum could do about it though, my bambino ears were hurting. When we left the plane she said to the guy “Oh Madame Bovary! I read that in the original French. She dies at the end.” YEAH!

[1] I know, I know.
[2] Having a [a:Dostoyevsky|3137322|Fyodor Dostoyevsky|] in both categories is a great example of why you should stick with some writers. If I read [b:Crime and Punishment|7144|Crime and Punishment |Fyodor Dostoyevsky||3393917] first, I would have stopped there and told everyone that I didn’t like [a:Dostoyevsky|3137322|Fyodor Dostoyevsky|].

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