Monday, March 14, 2005

The End of the Affair

A few years ago I saw a movie called The End of the Affair, and I remember that at that time I liked it. And, a couple weeks ago, my wonderful fiance indulged my love of books, some would call it an obsession, and took me to an enormous used book store in Manhattan, namely The Strand. The Strand boasts 18 miles of books, and, even after having been there for an hour and a half (I say we were only there for under an hour and he says we were there for two, so I'm compromising), I probably didn't even rummage through 1% of their books. Though I didn't really make my way through that many of their stacks--I'm giddy even remembering what it was like to be there--I still returned from Manhattan with scores of books, including Graham Greene's End of the Affair. As soon as I read the synopsis on the book's back cover I realized the movie had been adapted from Graham Greene's novel.

Every once in a while I come across a book that speaks to what it means to be human, a story that glimpses into the soul. Greene's novel is one of those pieces. The novel is almost autobiographical. It's like Greene wrestled with the darkest and brightest portions of his own nature, and this book resulted. If you like to mix your daily dose of philosophy and religion with fiction, then this book's it. The story captures one man's relationship with the God he wants to deny. It's just brilliant! It's way to fresh on the brain for me to write anything useful about it right now.

While I found certain stylistic aspects of it to be troubling, e.g., inconsistent transitions from chapter to chapter and portions of the ending too convenient, I loved this book. It' such a fine piece of fiction that it makes me wonder whether the author intended bumpy transitions in certain places, i.e., whether they have some sort of hidden meaning that I'm not getting.

It really was a wonderful read. I don't want to say too much about the ending, but I'll say this: certain aspects of the ending weren't ambiguous enough. The book captured how futile it is to deny God's existence, because he wont deny your's. I think that the reader, the "believer," would have felt this at a personal level even more than he already does if certain aspects of the ending had been more ambiguous. The reader would have felt a push/pull between rational explanations and religious explanations if specific portions of the ending a more open explanation. Geez this is hard to explain without giving away the book. I'll stop here.

By the way, I've realized that I should have written about the Da Vinci Code as well as Angels and Demons. I still haven't read the Code, but I find everyone's buying into it's being historical silly. Angels and Demons wasn't a great book--it was a fun beach book--but society's response to it and/or other pieces of literature that incorporate some historical facts startles me. The reason it startles me: people think fiction is fact. Why? Why is there such a complete lack of common sense or basic knowledge of history that makes it possible for people to read something like the Code or see something like the Gangs of New York and think that they're seeing something that really happened? Don't be a duncical reader (that's what I tell myself when I read something that calls itself a documentary or says it's adapted from or based on history).

Firstly, one of the first few pages in Dan Brown's book is entilted "Facts." It states that essentially all the rituals, pieces of artwork, and so on have been meticulously researched and are true. In response, many have published responses to the novel, such as Breaking the Da Vinci Code and the myriad of other books listed by Though takes issue with Brown's book because of it's open hostility to Catholicism and Christianity, I take issue with it's readers, not it's author. People? What's next? Why are you so willing to believe tripe? Why are people so willing to believe the worst about western civilization and religion? And, more importantly, why are people so ill informed? (On the upside, at least people are reading (they're just not thinking). Is that too mean?)

Now, some people have probably been spoonfed nonsense by iconoclastic teaching professionals that belong to an especially ill-informed school of idealogues; however, regardless of the malebolge that certain schools offer up as a "approved" education, don't we owe it to ourselves to seek out the truth? I'm sure there are a lot of good history books out there, but I would recommend Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong as a great place to start. If anyone can think of any others, please let me know. I'm always looking for a good read.

Anyway, back to my wonderful pile of books. Eragon is just around the corner. I promise not to rant again for quite a while.