Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Oh North America, how I want to show you such foul delight!" : Nog Reads Rontel

"I can connect nothing with nothing."  --T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

[May contain spoilers, though it's not really a spoiler kind of book]

I thought of Eliot's line somewhere in the midst of Rontel in connection to our narrator's feelings on his life and his city as he wanders through Chicago.  He is simultaneously baffled by the world and wants to kill everyone he meets even while unexpectedly finding a sort of strange beauty (and even connection) in his encounters, such as this moment in a sandwich shop:

"I pointed at the things I wanted. 
 'That bread, please,' I said, pointing towards some bread behind a glass blocker.
It was very intimate.
An intimate process.
A mutual trust.
A marriage.
In which he agreed to gently make my sandwich as I directed."

It's a very White Noise-y kind of moment: hidden meaning behind the mundane.  

I expected Rontel to be an overload of quirk (and it IS quirky as fuck, and also wildly funny), but I came away from it strangely moved.  There even seems to be a bit of a character arc, as our narrator begins with a view of life as being "a truly pointless equation where what happens happens and moves you toward the end where you supplement another section of the equation..." but ends (at least momentarily) with a feeling that "things were going to have meaning again maybe."   Having a weird-ass, shaved-headed cat like Rontel probably helps.


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