Monday, September 17, 2007

The Post-Birthday World

So The Hold Steady are playing a free concert tonight at the World Trade Center Park. 5:30pm. I can't go, but you should. They're fun live.

Since I'm still in a bit of a music rut today (which is strange since I recently hit the point have more music on my computer than will even fit on my iPod...), I am going to do a book review instead.

A few weeks ago I finished reading "The Post-Birthday World" by Lionel Shriver. I really enjoyed it, though I can't say it gave me the most optimistic feeling about marriage or love. The thing that was interesting about the book was that it was two stories in one. The first few chapters go normally, but then the character makes a decision - to cheat or not to cheat - and the book goes in two separate directions and explores the results of both decisions. The even chapters are one choice and the odd chapters are the other choice. What makes it even more interesting is that even though the two lives the main character leads in each story are very different, there are always little parallels that tie the two chapters of her different decisions together. And at times it was like the one life was aware of the parallel life in the other chapter.

There were also a few very astute observations in the book that I thought were put in a lovely way. One of them, for example, was that you can't say something is against your nature if you are doing it and, in fact, it simply means that you have a higher opinion of yourself than you should. I think people use that as an excuse for doing things they know they shouldn't or they know are wrong. They say it's "against their nature" and they go on pretending they are still good people. Well, the main character liked to think of cheating on her husband as against her nature, but then she realized that she was doing it and therefore it couldn't really be against her nature - she simply wanted to think she was a better person than she really was. Of course, Shriver put this much more nicely/eloquently/poetically than I am, and that is why she is the one writing novels and I am the one reading them. And yes, Lionel Shriver is a woman - born Margaret Ann Shriver.

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