PopJustice Book Club

I joined an Instagram book swap thing last month and my first book just arrived!!

It was a [very used] copy of Wonder by R.J. Palacio, which looks like the perfect way to prevent me from reading A Little Life a bit longer!
 
I’ve tried many times to finish that book but it’s just not good. Great writing of course but the story is so tragic that halfway through it becomes a parody of a tragedy. It’s torture porn in book form and I don’t do that.
There’s only so many abusers that a person can run into in their life… and when he jumps from the stairs or whatever to kill himself only to end up being alive and in an even worse condition than before? I mean we’ve been reading for 500 pages how fragile his body is only to end up there… it’s pure fantasy.
 
A lot of my apathy towards criticism of the book comes from weird benchmarks like realism/plausibility when she's iterated plenty of times that it isn't meant to be realistic. I think it's a litmus test of sorts for how much suffering we're willing to bear witness to before we grow numb to it/dismiss it entirely. I can understand why it might be too much for someone as a reader but moralizing fiction feels in line with the sanitization of content like the TikTok trend of saying 'unalive'.
 
I definitely agree about the lameness of moralising fiction (I ride hard for Bret Easton Ellis, for example) but A Little Life reads like it is supposed to feel realistic/plausible. I don’t know if allegory works when it’s so detailed and expansive (700 pages of detail and expansion). The artistic intent behind it all becomes more muddled the more you dwell on it, but that doesn’t stop it being a very interesting work. I would still recommend it to people, but as an experience rather than some kind of masterpiece.

Speaking of masterpieces, how did it take my whole life for Watership Down to find its way into my hands? What a book! Intensely moving and a beautiful rendering of the brutality of the natural world, but also intensely entertaining and thrilling. Some of the action set pieces had an almost unbearable tension to them, I had to put the book down and smoke a cigarette. I never knew I’d be made to care so much about rabbits! An all-time great read, I think.
 
A Little Life took me the best part of 9 months to get through and I needed the Spice Girls tour to get me happy at the end. Yes I appreciated the trauma but I need something usual to get me through my day-to-day
 

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