Saturday, July 17, 2010
"It is inescapable and highly intractable."
Benicio bears no relevance to my current thoughts, but he's soooo dreamy I felt like including his image!!
Oh well, back to reality........ I've just come back from Seaworld Resort where I had a fantastic buffet, where I gorged myself on oysters and smoked salmon. I'm still feeling a bit uncomfortable after too much dessert, so whilst it is all digesting I'll have chat about a couple of books. I finished Solaris and can honestly say I loved it. It was beautifully imagined and I did read somewhere that Lem was not happy with the English translation and can imagine probably that English may not encapsulate some of the images that he conveyed in Polish.
You don't have to like Science Fiction to enjoy this novel, though there is plenty of scientific theory throughout. The premise is the question of whether human beings can make contact with the one living entity on Solaris - being the all emcompassing ocean. The ocean has made contact with humans, but in such a way that it has frightened them. It has created living images of humans from the sleeping minds of the scientists, and has so unnerved them that they try experiments to get rid of their 'visitors'. Kelvin however is visited by the image of his beautiful late wife who is in some way better than the wife who committed suicide. After questioning her own existence and knowing that she is part of a bigger picture that is frightening the station crew she chooses to be destroyed aided by Snow, one of the other scientists. When she has gone Kelvin realises he cannot ever leave Solaris as there may be a chance that he will see her again. This is a true love story.
The asymmetriads and the mimiods that the ocean creates are such a wonderfully imagined idea that I would really love to see one and can almost believe that they exist. I lament my own lack of imagination when I read something as wonderful as this.
Anyway, the real reason for this blog tonight is identified by my title. It is a line (one of many) that has made me laugh from The Third Policeman and is spoken by Seargent Pluck in a deep resonant Irish accent (well, that is how the narrator makes it sound in the audio book). Seargent Pluck is going to hang our narrator for murder, our narrator having stumbled upon this strange Irish community where people can turn into bicycles and Eternity is reached via a lift.
Our narrator really is a murderer but Seargent Pluck doesn't know this at this stage, he's charging him because of some incontrovertable rules about people with no names as our narrator cannot remember his name since arriving at this strange place.
Knowing that he is gonig to be hanged within 24 hours our narrator asks Seargent Pluck about certain strange goings on at the Police Barracks and about measurements that are taken daily with regards to levers. Pluck takes him to a building that leads to Eternity where he is weighed before taking the lift downwards. When they arrive he finds a room that is full of little doors, and the room following from there is the same. Pluck takes a bicycle from one of the doors, and opens the main door to the next room and there is a bicycle there too in the same position and they suppose that if they open a door from there onwards and so on........ our narrator asks for some gold and also some jewels which they are able to obtain from one of the little doors, but when he asks to leave Eternity he's told he can only go in the lift if he weighs the same as when he first arrived and he has to leave his loot behind much to his distress.
When our narrator was younger he broke his leg so badly in six places it resulted in him having a wooden leg. In this strange community he meets a robber but he also has a wooden leg, and he pledges his allegiance to our narrator and promises not to rob him. Whilst waiting for the hangman's scaffold to be built he watches the carpenter who drops his hammer. Joe (our narrator's soul, with whom he has internal conversations with) mentions that the carpenter didn't even flinch when the hammer dropped on his foot. Our narrator calls out to the carpenter and asks if he has a wooden leg, he does indeed and he also knows of the robber and has other wooden legged friends, and he agrees to get hold of them immediately to save our narrator from the hangman's noose.
I wish I had the actual hard copy book here so that I could flick through the pages and type out some of the wonderful lines. There's something magical about Irish humour and this book is full of it. When our narrator (I don't think he's been given a name yet?) first arrives in this wierd community it is via the house of the man he had murdered. He has gone there three years after the event, to look for his cash box which was the original motive for the murder. Everything changes when he pulls up the floor boards to get the box and the murdered man is in the room with him and when they talk the murdered man answers everything in the negative. It is a very funny and very clever scene. I listened to it twice. In fact throughout this book I have gone back to re-listen to passages as it is quite a strange narration that it needs to be savoured a few times to be fully appreciative of its cleverness.
There is a downside to the novel and that is the use of a lot of footnotes relating to a man named De Selby, who is the initial cause of all our narrators troubles. I have found them pretty irrelevant so far and very annoying! HOWEVER, I am loving this read and even more so when I realised the other day it is on my 1001 book list.
I went to the library this morning and I spent an hour at the audio section checking out all the titles I hadn't read! There aren't that many when you discount all the Danielle Steele's lined up there. I did pick up four books though which I'll listen to at a later date:
Carry Me Down by M J Hyland
North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell*
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick (this will be my September read for book club as the theme is A Man's Home is His Castle).
A Tranquil Star - Primo Levi (17 short stories translated from the Italian).
*Another one for the 1001 list.
Well off to bed now, I think my all you can eat seafood buffet has begun to settle and I might be able to sleep without too many nightmares!
Oops, here he is again.... sweet dreams for me tonight then.......