I initially decided to read The Blood of the Lamb by Peter De Vries based upon this testimony of it by James Lileks:
but it?s a quintessentially comic act penned by a comic novelist, and you can?t ignore the context. It works. It doesn?t work. It?s perfect; it?s contrived. I can?t make up my mind – and the fact that I read it 20 years ago and still think of it today tells you much about the novel. It just aches.
Curiosity monkey that I am, I can’t resist reading another book that affects in such a way. I wanted to like this book, but I just didn’t. I’ve noticed that there tends to be a certain style of American writing, circa 1940s-1960s, which I just cannot enjoy. I’m not sure what it is, exactly, nor even how to describe it, quite. It’s a certain quality or style of prose which grates on me. (And I realize that I am unfairly maligning decades-worth of writing which I would probably adore, otherwise.) I wish that I knew what this quality was. Maybe there’s a certain spare or hollow quality that tires me.
I mean, The Blood of the Lamb is awfully obviously autobiographically based upon a real experience by the author. Is it that which repels me? That De Vries is mining his own life, to such a degree? Or maybe that he didn’t mine it enough? I’m not so certain that reading isn’t a form of voyeurism in this case. Is reading always a form of voyeurism? And is it even a particularly healthy form of it? (At one of his many readings around town, Chuck Palahniuk once remarked that reading about sex was the least interesting way to experience it, that there was something particularly unsexy about it… One could perhaps say a similar thing in regards to reading about any particular experience.) Do I read to avoid experience? Does the voyeur watch to avoid experience? I find it of supreme interest that the concept of reading is, as far as I can tell, held up as an unquestioned Good. This is not something that I would hold to be true, anymore.
This is getting very far away from where I started. I’m not even really sure where I am anymore.
I guess I’ll close out with a De Vries quote (as I seem to have written myself into a broom closet):
“It is the final proof of God’s omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us.”
A cookie to ponder.