Monday, September 12, 2011

Courtneybelle on Letters from Zedelghem / And Thoughts On Section 3: Half-Lives: The First Louisa Rey Mystery

Here's Courtneybelle's fun take on "Letters from Zedelghem":

Regardless of breasts, I feel ill-qualified to comment on Letters from Zedelghem from a feminist perspective. I will say this section of the book appeals to my love of the "superfluous man". I never felt that one should spend the energy to think of the acts of a superfluous man as either praiseworthy or despicable, which is why I can't take pains to dislike Frobisher. Suffice it to say that I can see that this character has more than a little in common with the shiftless, meandering spirits of the hipster generation or "generation why". Well, more in common than just Venereal disease.

"That love loves fidelity, she riposted, is a myth woven by men from their insecurities."

Well bespoke! While this is certainly a popular sentiment among females, it always puts me off. Sisters, don't you know what crazy, possessive freaks you are right now? I'm open to the possibility that the ladies presented so far haven't had many redeeming qualities because we actually don't have that much to recommend us in the first place. I'm not going to fault the author for that, yet.

I can't lie, I admire the moxie of a person who can straight out call Claude Debussy a man-whore.

My Favorite Line from section 2:
"Faith, the least exclusive club on Earth, has the craftiest doorman"

Lastly, as a lover of individual words, I must admit the damnable author has caused me to forgive him for using the word "hamlet" twice in the first chapter. By using two of my all time favorite words in this chapter, onanist and escutcheon, he managed to pull me begrudgingly back to the possibility that this book might go somewhere.


[Read after third section]

In the third section, titled Half-Lives: The First Louisa Rey Mystery, we shift from the first person journals and letters of the first two sections and into a standard third-person format. Straightforward, with brief chapters. Is this a piece of a novel(even though it seems to be telling a story with real characters?) And who's writing it? We don't know. Yet.

The link to the second section is made immediately apparent here (hello, Sixsmith!) so there's no clever mid-section reveal (though we do learn what Cloud Atlas refers to, which is nice).

Bananasuit will likely be pleased by the emergence of a plucky female heroine, Louisa Rey, a reporter who's toiled too long covering trivial gossip and finally gets her chance to break a major story involving a nuclear plant cover-up (if she's not rubbed out first).

I remain most intrigued by the idea of "interconnection." Why does Louisa Rey possess the same birthmark as Robert Frobisher? The ideas about shifting identity are occasionally mirrored by the prose itself. One short chapter begins with a character who sits at a hotel bar and "watches yachts in the creamy evening blues" and ends with another character who sits at the same hotel bar and "watches yachts in the creamy evening blues."

Memorable moment:

During a bit of snappy repartee, Louisa refers to an ex-boyfriend as a "swindling sperm gun."

Best description of America thus far:

"...our denuded, heroic, pernicious, enshrined, thirsty, berserking American continent."

1 comment:

  1. Courtneybelle is a genius -- Frobisher is totally a 1930s Euro hipster.

    So guys, Frobisher's just making up his exploits to make Sixsmith jealous, right? We must discuss over PBRs.

    And I agree -- despite my best efforts to dislike the cad, Frobisher's just too hilarious and lovable. My favorite scene is just after he sells the rare books (&c.) to Jansch and exclaims "Sweet bird of solvency," then blows his wad on new spats, a sharkskin cigarette box, and beers. Adorable. And he slays me with his truisms: "Whoever opined, 'Money can't buy you happiness,' obviously had far too much of the stuff.'" So true!

    Other glimmerings of doubles & pairings: Jansch calls Frobisher "a naughty goose who lays such illuminated eggs." Are we to infer parallels between Frobisher and Dr. Goose of the Thomas Ewing journals?

    And fellow readers, I hope you appreciate the restraint I'm exercising in order to refrain from discussing feminism in context of Mrs. Crommelyncks and equestrian transformation motifs in The Mabinogian & Ukrainian folklore. Can't wait to meet Luisa Rey in section three!