Tuesday 28 June 2011

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

"Hope was an instinct only the reasoning human mind could kill. An animal never knew despair." 

Curse you procrastination! Regretfully, I should have written a review soon after finishing this wonderful novel by my favorite author or at the very least, jotted down some notes because my poor memory is preventing me from writing anything substantial that would even remotely do The Power and the Glory justice. I plan on reading it again in the not too distant future in order to present a proper analysis of the dense complexities and religious theodicy of Graham's text. In comparison to the other three novels that I have read by Greene (The Quiet American, The End of the Affair, and A Burnt-out Case), The Power and the Glory was by far the most depressing, elusive, inscrutable and dare I say it, the least enjoyable reading experience of them all. I wonder if my initial reaction would have proven different if this happened to be the first novel that I have ever read by Graham? Nonetheless, having grown accustomed to his writing style and thematic concerns, I could not help but feel slightly underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, Graham is still in top form and this novel is easily better than most of the tripe written these days but it will require a much closer-reading to sufficiently comprehend and appreciate the elaborate tapestry of the intricate religious ideologies addressed in the novel. 

Certainly the most deeply religious of Greene's work that I have encountered thus far, the story involves an unnamed renegade Catholic "Whisky-priest" who is being hunted down by local authorities in Mexico for practicing the religion where anti-Catholic legislation is in full effect. Greene is prone to depicting characters struggling with their own morality and faith and in this novel, the whiskey-priest's dilemma is by far the most religiously complex.  The concept of grace along with striving to obtain salvation plague the priests conscious as he travels the severely destitute villages of Mexico to preach the gospel. These communities are plagued by starvation, disease and death. What kind of significant difference can the priest hope to make in the lives of these suffering individuals? He feels that he is nothing but a fraud because of past sins and yet, continues to carry out his religious duties. Overwhelmed with guilt, he even hopes to be caught but still continues to run and hide from the authorities, lead by a Lieutenant who is adamant to purge the country of Catholicism and establish a secular society. Greene could have portrayed the Priest and the Lieutenant as representing antithetical religious ideologies but he is far too intelligent and clever of an author to resort to black-and-white representations of religion -- moral ambiguity is a trademark aspect of Greene's writing. The priest is not the epitome of righteousness and nor is the Lieutenant the embodiment of unprecedented evil. Greene understands humanity with such clarity and his characters are never so unequivocal in their intentions; human beings are flawed and far too complex to be bogged down into rudimentary caricatures of morality. 

One of the main reasons why I find Graham Greene to be such an exceptional author is that he is a master of brevity,  his writing is entrancing in its lyrical beauty and profound wisdom concerning the human condition. I could quote his prose ad nauseum but here are just a few passages from this novel that I found to be particularly remarkable:

"It is one of the strange discoveries a man makes that life, however you lead it, contains moments of exhilaration: there are always comparisons which can be made with worse times:even in danger and misery the pendulum swings."

"How often the priest had heard the same confession--Man was so limited: he hadn't even the ingenuity to invent a new vice: the animals knew as much. It was for this world that Christ had died: the more evil you saw and heard about you, the greater the glory lay around the death; it was too easy to die for what was good or beautiful, for home or children or civilization--it needed a God to die for the half-hearted and the corrupt."  

"It infuriated him to think that there were still people in the state who believed in a loving and merciful God. There are mystics who are said to have experienced God directly. He was a mystic, too, and what he had experienced was vacancy--a complete certainty in the existence of a dying, cooling world, of human beings who had evolved from animals for no purpose at all."  
I may not necessarily agree with his religious ideologies and it would be fallacious to label his works as pure propaganda; he is far more interested in exploring the lingering doubt and contradictions towards the Catholic faith as opposed to strictly resorting to bludgeoning the reader to death with dull religious discourse. The Power and the Glory may not be the most "entertaining" of Greene's novels but it is superbly crafted (the convoluted narrative makes sense near the end) and presents such a genuine and empathetic portrayal of religious sensibilities: that tiny shred of doubt leads to bigger questions of searching for the truth to live a meaningful life. What is the answer? I'm under the impression that Greene is intent on highlighting the power and glory of "grace" as a possible resolution to achieve enlightenment. 

Read from June 19 to 21, 2011

Monday 20 June 2011

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."

J.D. Salinger is one of those authors who just "gets me" with his intelligent and philosophical discourse. This novel is overflowing with so many glorious passages that accurately reflect my own personal beliefs but he is far more eloquent in expressing these ideas in prose. For example, Franny expresses her chagrin at the paradox of conforming to capitalist societal norms in order to achieve success: "It's everybody, I mean. Everything everybody does is so — I don't know — not wrong, or even mean, or even stupid necessarily. But just so tiny and meaningless and — sad-making. And the worst part is, if you go bohemian or something crazy like that, you're conforming just as much only in a different way" (26). Salinger's cynical perspicacity is a source of comfort and just resonates me. Catcher in the Rye still remains a personal and sentimental favorite that is responsible for sparking my love for literature during those impressionable teenage years. Holden Caulfield is one of those iconic American literary figures that has influenced generations and in my mind, no novel has come close to perfectly capturing the cynical, neurotic, egotistical and self-deprecating voice of a teenager in all of its heartbreaking pathos. Thus, I approached Franny and Zooey with exceedingly high expectations and Salinger did not disappointment; in fact, he managed astound me once again with his immensely beautiful prose, psychological, religious and philosophical insight into the human condition.

Even though this novel shares many similar characteristics to Catcher in the Rye with its self-conscious and highly stylized prose focusing on a coming-of-age story, it radically differs from the latter by presenting a far more deeply religious family drama. Salinger is meticulous in his writing with a propensity for infusing overwhelming subtle complexities to the story that is difficult to fully absorb and comprehend on a first reading. Initially, the novel left me baffled: what exactly is Salinger attempting to achieve here? The novel's mesmerizing style allows for a brisk read but the richly layered subtext is easy to overlook. Only after  subsequent closer readings will the intricate underlying thematic richness of the text become more apparent. Rarely do I come across an author who uses subtlety in such a fastidious complex way that enriches the story instead for merely aesthetic purposes to create superfluous ambiguity (I'm looking at you Faulkner). Salinger begins in medias res and is not interested in providing incessant  exposition to explain story events. It is mostly through the ironic omniscient narrator and dialogue between characters where the narrative context materializes.

Divided into two sections (respectively titled Franny and Zooey), the first part focuses on Franny Glass, a pensively sophisticated college student who meets up with her boyfriend Lane to attend the Yale football game for the weekend. Ostensibly, their long-distant relationship appears to be satisfactory but it is through a letter she sends Lane that contains subtle hints that not everything is going well between the couple. Lane picks up Franny at the train station and they head to a diner to get some food and martinis. Much of this section consists of dialogue between the young couple and it becomes clear that Franny is unhappy in this relationship because Lane is a pompous and conceited English major who represents everything she despises about people; specifically, those individuals who tend to be phonies and pseudo-intellectuals with bloated egos. She also happens to be undergoing a mental-breakdown stemming from a spiritual crisis caused by reading a Russian religious work that was once owned by her deceased brother Seymour. She attempts to explain the text to Lane but he is far too preoccupied with his own selfish concerns to pay any attention. It is only in the second part where the "Jesus Prayer" becomes increasingly significant to the overall thematic structure of the novel. 

Taking place entirely within the Glass family residence in an upscale New York apartment complex, the second section embellishes an odd narrative framework that is narrated by Franny's older brother Buddy who is interested in adapting his story into a "prose home movie" (47); that is, it introduces Franny's other brother Zooey and mother Bessie as they both attempt to make sense of Franny's sudden psychological breakdown when she returns home instead of spending time with Lane during the weekend. The narrative perspective shifts to Zooey where a fragmented portrait of the Glass family history and the novel's theological implications take precedence. Much of the story is influenced by literary dramatic conventions -- the setting of confined spaces, the use heavy dialogue as Zooey engages in both trivial and profound conversations with his mother and sister. The exaggerated tone and style further establish the sense of drama. Salinger is keen on exploring the nature of acting, especially pertaining to human connections and the role of "performing" specific roles; thus, the tendency to project various facades instead of being genuinely honest about oneself. Not only are Franny and Zooey actors themselves but Salinger goes on further to suggest that the aesthetic of acting carries religious connotations as well; a type of spiritual practice with its own theodicy: "detachment", "desiring" and "cessation from all hankerings" (198). Zooey engages in a complex religious debate with Franny about her improper use of the "Jesus Prayer" where religious doctrine and syncretism are in direct conflict. Why is he so upset about Franny's use of the prayer? For him, one must understand Jesus first and Franny is not being specific enough; she is paying no attention to who Jesus is and what it means to pray to him (169). In essence, she is merely acting out the role of a pious Christian instead of being truly devout in her religious convictions.

Personally, one of the most remarkable and emotionally moving moments in the entire novel takes places near the end when Zooey enters his dead brother Seymour’s old room that he once shared with Buddy; a holy place where he undertakes a religious ritual before entering. Placing a handkerchief over his head (a substitute for a yamika perhaps?), he venerates the room of his two older brothers. He notices beaver-boards of panels with a plethora of quotations from Seymour and Buddy’s favorite theologians, artists and authors. These existential and religious quotes further emphasize the novel's own religious philosophies pertaining to both doctrine and syncretism. Zooey discovers Seymour's diary and reads a passage describing the celebration of a birthday party that his family throws for him involving a vaudeville act and it is full of overwhelming joy and love but also contains immense sadness. Salinger is so skilled at creating such pathos with subtle nuances.

Franny and Zooey is one of those novels that I can't wait to revisit it again and unravel its many mysteries. Literature does not get much better than this, folks.

This novel is part of the Classics Club Challenge.

Read from June 17 to 19, 2011

Sunday 19 June 2011

Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick

After having read several excellent novels by the consistently brilliant Philip K. Dick, Martian Time-Slip turned out to be the first disappointment of his large oeuvre that failed to leave any indelible impression on me. Oddly enough, I have grown to enjoy PKD's uneven rambling prose because it is often counter-balanced by bizarre and always fascinating concepts along with deeply profound religious and philosophical ideas. Ironically, this novel is actually contains a narrative structure and style that is far less jarring than his other works but ends up being the least noteworthy due to the familiar subject matter that comes across as a weak rehash as opposed to giving new form to these ideas, which he is able to achieve with some of his best novels including A Scanner Darkly, Ubik and A Scanner Darkly. Mental illness, reality, gnosticism, salvation, drug abuse, time and death are all important concerns for PKD, which constantly crop up in his novels but with Martian Time-Slip, many of these ideas are drastically undermined by the thin story and dull characters. 

Taking place during the early colonization period of Mars, a repair man named Jack Bohlen crosses paths with a powerful Union representative and his mistress who all find their lives influenced by a strange autistic child named Manfred who seems to hold the answers to the future. To make troubles worse, Jack suffers from schizophrenia and Manfred has the ability to time travel and bring others with him. Colonial life is difficult with water being scarce and people desperately suffering from loneliness with housing establishments being scattered amongst the harsh arid environment. Seriously now, this premise is brilliant with so much potential for greatness but the story never fully materializes towards a satisfying conclusion. There are also some other sub-plots involving secondary characters but they too are rendered inconsequential. On a more positive note, Dick does provide some interesting social commentary regarding the evils of  capitalism, colonization and the flawed education system. Furthermore, the overt sexism and racial bigotry are a tad excessive and laughably passé although I suppose one must take into account that the novel was written during the 1960's. Despite my unabashed love for this author, I can only recommend this novel to hardcore PKD fans.

Read from June 07 to 17, 2011

Friday 17 June 2011

I'm baaaaaack...

Either play the game, or get played. Ya, feel me?

Not that anyone noticed, haha. I took a little mini-break from reading to pick up more shifts at work and have been full absorbed by HBO's The Wire, which is now my favorite show ever. An epic mosaic of Baltimore with strong political and social convictions as the government and police try to deal with the increasing violence spurned by the dominant drug trafficking and gangs battling over street corners. The show's sense of moral ambiguity is one of its many noteworthy aspects because nothing is ever black and white. Who are the real good and bad guys here? Are the cops and law enforcement more corrupt than the actual criminals they are trying to apprehend? There is something genuinely authentic and raw about the documentary-like film-making style that effectively captures a sense of intimacy unlike many of these cop dramas on television like C.S.I. which tend to be overly-stylized, entirely formulaic and lack any significant substance. The Wire is riveting in its drama and very entertaining but also contains plenty of humor despite the serious subject matter. It deals with relevant social and political issues in such an intelligent and complex way that produces plenty of discussion. In terms of narrative, creator David Simon and his co-writers have eschewed from keeping each episode self-contained as is a common feature in many network crime shows: There is a crime, the detectives solve it and it ends. Rinse and repeat. The Wire is unique in that it is one long story and each episode builds the story filled with many sub-plots and fascinating characters that are all connected in some way. The narrative and character progressions from Season 1 to 5 is utterly remarkable. The Wire sets the bar so high as to what television shows can achieve in terms of sheer story-telling and scope, rendering the majority of other shows as utterly pedestrian and worthless. 

Ok, getting back to literature. I finished reading PKD's Martian-Time Slip so expect a review in the next few days. I also picked up a bunch of new books from my favorite book store today:

Total: $10. Such a score!

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Teaser Tuesdays!

It's that time again! Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme held by MizB from Should be Reading.

Anyone can play along!
  •  Grab a book you are reading.
  •  Open to a random page and pull two sentences.
  • Post the book title, author, and page number.
  • No spoilers, please.
My teaser: "Better to succumb to the schizophrenic process, join the rest of the world. She raised the window shade; the sunlight, with its familiar reddish, dusty tinge, filled her sight and made it impossible to see" (1).  - The Martian-Time Slip by Philip K. Dick

Whenever I am in a reading slump, I can always count on PKD to remedy the situation.

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby

"It seems to me now that the plain state of being human is dramatic enough for anyone; you don't need to be a heroin addict or a performance poet to experience extremity. You just have to love someone."

Oh, Nick Hornby, how the mighty have fallen. There was a time when you were my favorite author and even though I still consider High-Fidelity and About a Boy contemporary masterpieces, everything else I have read by you drastically pales in comparison: How to Be Good follows this inauspicious trend. Similar to my grievances with A Long Way Down, this novel attempts to deal with serious subject matter (in this case, morality and spiritual reverence) but is encumbered by its own unsettled ideologies. Thus, the attempt to provide a thought-provoking religious parable loses all relevance and is rendered moot. What should have been a profoundly insightful and emotionally resonant story about trying to live a meaningful and moral life becomes innocuous and utterly forgettable. Despite the novel's many shortcomings, Hornby's enticing writing style does make it an easy read and for the first time in his career as an author, he is capable of effectively depicting a convincing female first person narrator. Katie Carr is no Rob Gordon or Will Freeman but she is intriguing enough to prove that Hornby is not strictly bound to writing from the male point of view. 

I have always admired Hornby's trenchant witticism and sardonic humor; the empathetic portrayal of genuine human relationships in all of their contradictions and complexities; his introspective and pithy observations of human experience along with an authentic portrait of the 20th and 21st century zeitgeist. How to be Good does possess many of these trademark qualities but is not nearly compelling as expected from an author with such talent. 

As the first book in my participation with Gabriel's challenge, it is with great chagrin that this novel will not be making the shelf and shall be donated. I am under the impression that Hornby set the bar exceedingly high for himself with High-Fidelity and About a Boy that he will be unable to write anything else that can possibly reach the caliber of these two brilliant novels. Oh well, at least we will always have them to remember him by.

Read from June 01 to 06, 2011  

Saturday 4 June 2011

Book Blogger Hop!

My apologies for being late for the Book Blogger Hop party because of stupid work, ugh. Crazy-For-Books hosts this wonderful weekly event on Fridays where other bloggers have the opportunity to connect with others who share a similar passion for literature. It's a great venue for book lovers so please check it out! Question of the week: What is your favorite post from last month and why it is close to your heart?

Oh, that's an easy one. My contribution to Gabriel's Wicked Wednesday where I wrote a short creative writing piece based on A Clockwork Orange and The Sound and the Fury, which can be found here. Technically, this post shouldn't count since it was written on June 1st but I am much prouder of this write-up than anything any of my reviews posted in the month of May. It has been a long time since I have actually sat down and attempted to write any type of fiction and taking on this particular challenge provided me with the inspiration to start writing more often. Thanks Gabe!

Thursday 2 June 2011

My Antonia by Willa Cather

"Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past."

This was one of those novels assigned in my grade 12 high-school English class that I did not bother to read and in retrospect, I do not regret my decision. If only I had the foresight to not pick it up 10 years later because it was a complete waste of time. I can understand its status as an American Classic within a historical context, but there was nothing within the narrative that struck me as exceptionally memorable. Cather is able to successfully create a vivid portrait of prairie life in Nebraska during the late 1800's to the early part of the 20th century but the interminable descriptions of nature and the rural environment are excessively tedious.

Moreover, the story is exceptionally dull with bland characters. Jim Burden nostalgically narrates his experience of growing up as a young boy on his grandparent's farm and his relationship with the an immigrant Bohemian farm-girl named Antonia. Yawn. The novel's concern with allegory, feminism, sexuality and autobiography vs. fiction would be topics of interest for those concerned with performing an in-depth analysis but I remain much too indifferent towards Cather's novel to engage in such literary criticism. 

Read from May 28  to 31, 2011  

Books to Movie Challenge!

I just could not pass up the opportunity to participate in this exciting book challenge hosted by Two Bibliomaniacs despite my previous commitment to other challenges and my propensity to procrastinate. Nevertheless, I like to think of myself killing two birds with one stone (a cruel idiom if I may say so myself) by taking on this particular challenge considering that I have recently read several novels that have been adaptated into films and was eventually going to watch them anyways. Here is my viewing schedule:
  1. Solaris (Soderbergh, 2002)
  2. The Big Sleep (Hawks, 1946) 
  3. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  5. The Prime of Miss Brodie (Neame, 1969) 
  6. The Ninth Configuration (Blatty, 1980)
More to come...

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Wild Card Wednesday!

Gabriel Reads is hosting a nifty weekly blogging event that seems like a lot fun.  He provides a literary question where fellow bloggers offer responses and have the opportunity showcase their creative talents. I do apologize if my write-up is a bit long.

This week's prompt: Choose one of your favorite characters and one of your least favorite characters. Now pretend they're going on a road trip. What's the destination and how do they interact?

I have decided to go with literary works that I have read in the last few months:

Favorite character: Alex (A Clockwork Orange)
Least favorite character: Quentin Compson (The Sound and the Fury)
Destination: Yoknapatawpha County (Mississippi)

Despite feeling reluctant of returning to a life of depravity, Alex eventually bows to peer-pressure and agrees to join his new droogs, Bully, Len and Rick to itty a malenky trip to the deep south of Mississippi for some horrorshow ultra-violence, drecrom eegras, crasting and the ol' in-out-in-out with some grahzy devotchkas (apparently these Southern belles are promiscuous). Arriving six weeks later by steamship, they are anxious for some serious ultra-violence. Alex and his droogs first crast a horse and buggy from a nearby farm and then itty yecktating throughout the dirt roads hooting and howling into the nochy. The millicents are understaffed and not very active in this part of the county. Alex and his droogs are are still dressed in the height of fashion (pair of black very tight tights with the old jelly mould, fitting on the crotch underneath the tights with different shapes) and go around ransacking various barn yards to milk cows for their vellocet moloko and synthemesc. Once they are sharpened for a bit of dirty twenty-to-one, they are ready for a nocky of ultra-violence.

"What's it going to be then, eh?"

They soon come across an old drunken farmer stumbling and singing a badiwad southern tune that makes no sense as he makes his way oddy knocky along an isolated stretch of road. Pulling up next to the starry man, they crark obscenities  at him such as as "trout" and "bratchny" but the pyahnitsa completely ignores them. Alex sits at the front of the buggy and holds onto the reigns as his three droogs maliciously jump on top of the old man and drag him to the ground. Alex looks on with uneasiness as they sabog him in the keeshkas and yarbles, fist his gulliver until he is unconscious and then proceed to crast him of the malenky cutter in his pockets. Regaining his composure, Alex starts up the horses and they leave the old man all krowwy by the side of the road. Soon, they come across a large plantation and glancing at the rusty mailbox, it reads "The Compsons" painted in a peeling red color. Alex decides that this place will be full of pretty polly and perhaps even some ptsisas for a horrorshow sod. 

Devising a similar strategy used back home, Alex will knock on the front door, pleading with whoever answers on the other side to open up, telling them that he desperately seeks assistance because one of his droogs has been badly injured in the middle of the road. The other two droogs will stand out of sight by the entrance waiting for the resident to open the door and then barge inside. Bully, being called Bully for his bolshy big neck and gromky goloss has been designated by Alex to "play dead" in the road as he makes his way up the long driveway to the front porch and knocks rapidly on the screen-door. Even though the door is shabby and would not take much force to bust down, Alex decides to still go along with the charade. Alex sloshies the footsteps in the hallway going clack clack clack clacky clack and once the inner door swings open, a baboochka Negress named Dilsey dressed in a grazzy nightgown stands before him in utter shock at the sight of him dressed in his anachronistic platties. Quickly putting on a gentleman's goloss, a very refined manner of speech, Alex says, "Pardon madam most sorry to disturb you but my friend and me were out for a walk, and my friend has taken bad all of a sudden with a very troublesome turn, and he is out there on the road dead and groaning. Would you have the goodness to let me use your telephone for an ambulance?" Dilsey just stands there in disbelief unable to comprehend a word Alex is saying and puts her rookers to her rot to prevent from creeching at the top of her lungs. Alex smecks malevolently and crashes through the door followed by his fellow droogs as they clop Dilsey to the floor. She chumbles with tears in her eyes, repeatedly making the sign of the cross as they tauntingly hover over her plott. The only vesch they can discern from her speech is, "You vilyuns!" Whut you do any of yo devilment fur?" The other two droogs Len and Rick begin to tolchock and pull the voloss of the baboochka until she is crying out in agony. Her night-gown is razrezed as they they drag her into the dining room and Bully follows with a bolshy smeck on his litso. A young negro named Lester is cowering in a corner, holding his knees and oscillating back and forth. They completely ignore him.

Suddenly, the patriarch of the family, Mr. Compson appears through the kitchen door with a shotgun and fires at Len and Rick only to miss and blast a hole through the wall behind them. Acting quickly, Bully charges Mr. Compson and tolchecks him over before the old man can get another shot off. The gun goes flying across the room to the foot of Alex who picks it up but skorry feels nauseous and must steady himself in one of the chairs at the bolshy dining table. His droogs look at him dubiously but shrug it off and proceed to quiet the screaming Dilsey by stuffing some of her razrezed clothing into her litso, tolchocking Mr. Compson until he is krovvy and eventually zasnooting. Bully and Len run bezoomny upstairs jumping up and down singing dirty slovos while Rick drags Dilsey into the kitchen for some sladky lubbilubbing. Distraught and still feeling ill, all Alex can do is sit holding his stomach in pain and stare fixedly at the young black boy terrified in the corner before passing out with his head on the the table.

Alex is awakened by the gromky sloshing of Bully of Len calling his name and howling slovos as they come down the stairs holding onto a pale baboochka with tears streaming down her face (Mrs. Compson) a pretty devotchka with firm groodies (Caddy), an autistic man-child holding his yarbles and drooling over himself (Benjy). Following slowly behind them is a silent and stoic young man mumbling to himself as he stares blankly into the abyss (Quentin). 'We was worried about you Alex,' said Bully. 'Rick here say we should let you sleep it off while we took care of the rest of em. Take a look at this slobbering veck!' He was filled with joy and made the old lip music and even Alex could not help but smeck.

'My appy polly loggies' Alex says, carefully. 'I had something of a pain in me gulliver so had to sit down for a while. It must have been the moloko.' Looking up slowly, he smots at Rick staring at him and sitting silently in the corner skillfully maneuvering a nozh between his fingers with a sneer of derision plastered on his litso. The young black boy is nowhere in sight. His throat dry, Alex asks Rick in a raspy voice, What happened to the malenky negro? A long pause and then Rick smecks and skazats, 'Don't worry little brother, all is well.' He motions towards the crowd of people in the middle of the room and Alex cannot help but notice how oblivious the young man looks, as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening to his family. Mr. Compson is awake now but laying at the feet of his family holding his krovvy gulliver as Benjy huddles over him poking at his plott.

Poogly, the jaundice looking baboochka interrupted and said: "Damn you all! What is all of this? Who are you? How dare you enter my house without permission and hold us hostage. Wait until my Jason returns from town and finds you devils here!" Len laughed and shlagnicked her in the litso until her nose was flowing with krovvy. Outraged, the young ptitsa attempts to break free from Bully's firm grasp on her pletcho to engage in dratsing with Len for tolchocking her mother but it is all in vain. Still, the young man just stood next to his sister and refused to put up any sort of resistance. He was now looking up at the ceiling and chumbling incoherently. Rick got to his feet, smecked and then said to Bully and Len: "Leave the ptitsa. Take the lot out the back and have your way with them."

Mustering up all his energy, Alex says, "Wait. I'm still in charge here so you ain't going to be giving orders like that, Ricky boy. He struggles to get up and balances himself by holding onto the edge of the table. Pointing at the somnambulist young man, he says: Oi, who is that gloopy chelloveck?" The young ptitsa answers by saying, "That is my older brother Quentin. You better leave him alone you rotten scoundrel!" Finding his balance, Alex takes out his brtiva and wobbles over to the Compson family. He takes the shotgun from Bully and gives the girl a glazzy wink. Grabbing the veck by the shirt,  he forces Quentin in the direction of the door by holding the brtiva in the other hand pressed against his spine. Bully moves towards Rick and Len on the other side of the room as the Compson family stays huddled together. "You droogs wait until I get back", Alex says before heading outside with Quentin. Rick guffs, waiting for the two of them to exit the house before brandishing his nozh and smecking at the Compsons.

A cool breeze passes across the fields and the sky is full of stars as Alex leads Quentin down the road to the tied up horses. Alex tosses the shotgun into the field and nudges him with the brtiva in the direction the driver's seat. "Get in, brother. You yeckate." Understanding the request, Quentin hoists himself up and jumping into the passenger side, Alex waits for Quentin to methodically grab the reins. The horses neigh and start at a trot before picking up speed as the two young men set out into the nochy.

"You don't govoreet much do ya veck?" Quentin does not respond or look at Alex. He continues to focus on steering the horses while mumbling under his breath as they travel across the dirt roads surrounded by vast pastures and crops. "Hey, slow down there brother", Alex says grabbing one of the reigns out of Quentin's hand. 'Let's govoreet for a malenky lomtik.' Quentin turns his head slowly with a look of disbelief and finally makes eye contact with Alex. "Maybe you will pony if I govoreet with a gentleman's goloss. Viddy, I made a mistake coming here, oh brother, and I am going to set things right. Take us to your local authorities so I can turn myself and my droogs in for attacking your family. My appy polly loggies. What I mean is, my apologies. to you and your poor family. Hopefully we can arrive back before Bully, Len and Rick can cause any more harm. Quentin noded in agreement and took hold of both reigns. Picking up speed, they turned right and headed towards what Alex could viddy was a small town with shining lights. "Quentin, right?" The young man beside him nodded again. "Perhaps that is it, Quentin. Perhaps I am getting too old for the sort of jeezny I had been leading, brother. I can't stay angry at Dr. Brodsky for what he did to me. Nevermind who he is, it will take too long to explain." What's your story, malchick?"

Suddenly, Quentin brought the horses to a stop and handed Alex the reigns. With an intense look, he began to speak but Alex could not fully understand what the young man was saying. Oh, the irony! Fragmented sentences, someone named "Caddy", something about clocks and incest, the old south, the civil war, suicide, a plethora of nonsensical stream-of-consciousness:

I got in front of her again 


stop it 

I held her 

Im stronger than you 

she was motionless hard unyielding but still 

I wont fight stop youd better stop 

Caddy dont Caddy 

it wont do any good dont you know it wont let me go the honeysuckle drizzled and drizzled I could hear the crickets watching us in a circle she moved back went around me on toward the trees 

you go on back to the house you neednt come 

I went on 

why dont you go on back to the house 

damn that honeysuckle..

Why does he not use proper sentences? Alex thought to himself. Quentin continued with his rant: After they had gone up stairs Mother lay back in her chair, the camphor handker- chief to her mouth. Father hadn't moved he still sat beside her holding her hand the bellowing hammering away like no place for it in silence    When I was little there was a picture in one of our books, a dark place into which a single weak ray of light came slanting upon two faces lifted out of the shadow. You know what I'd do if I were King?...   

Befuddled and growing angry, Alex tried desperately to resist that old feeling of ultra-violence but Quentin refused to stop his interminable, self-indulgent, post-modernist babbling absurdities. ''Stop it, stop it, stop it" Alex kept creeching out. "Shut your litso you grahzny bastard, for I can stand no more!" "For Bog's sake!" Quentin paid no attention to Alex.

Finally, unable to take anymore of this chepooka, Alex took his brtiva from his carman and lunged at Quentin's litso. Krovvy flowed everywhere as he sliced at Quentin's gorlo and stabbed him multiple times in the tick-tocker. Silence. Alex never fully appreciated peace and quiet until this moment. He kicked the slumping body out of the wagon and it fell to the ground with a loud thump. "I'm cured" he said, smecking to himself as he turned the horses around back in the direction of the Compson house.

The End.