Monday, November 23, 2009

Midnight in Dostoevsky by Don DeLillo

Two young students invent an imaginary world to evade their inconsequential one, when one continues left alone during vacation break and the other returns to find they are unable to reconcile what has been created a revolution erupts.

Don DeLillo makes a fine use of the characters Robby and Todd to demonstrate the human need for control by dictating our interpretation of the world. He also reveals what little power actually resides in these ego-driven interpretations which are often flawed and ultimately insignificant. Life continues regardless of what we think and argue it to be and the old man unchanged by the boy’s arguments concerning his identity continues to take his walks unperturbed, hands clasped behind his back.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Indianapolis (Highway 74) by Sam Shepard

Two souls in limbo collide at holiday Inn and find a little comfort where they least expect.


There is an ongoing theme of loops and characters stuck repeating mindless behavior. Stuart is “crisscrossing the country again without much reason.” He explains how “sometimes places pop into his head and he just goes” Giving us a sense that this is character who is lost and is evading himself and all which is and who are familiar to him. He is caught in a senseless loop repeating his mindless actions with no target or strategy.

Stuart also has social loops by having what he describes as a “bunch” of children with various women. Seemingly not investing in these relationships but constantly creating new ones.

Then there is his dog that is running in a circles in the back of the car. The fear of the storm making him also behave illogically.

There is the senseless loop of violence playing on the television where robbers kill employees who don’t have the key to the safe, but shoot the victims anyway. The receptionist can’t lower the volume or turn the channel because it’s on a computer system she has no control over which makes it an inescapable repetition of events.

Then Becky whose husband kidnapped her daughters and have disappeared is stuck in her own loop of false leads, despair and going from her house to the Holiday Inn.

Two souls collide breaking the impenetrable loop

Becky’s words “I was so in love with you” breaks through all the senseless and mindless loops which hold the characters in a state of compliant and perhaps willful aloofness throwing them into a type of urgent intimacy.

Stuart can no longer maintain his passive uninvolved escapism. He is affected by Becky's words and because of this he feels a need to destroy the televisions, the coffee tables, the lobby and flee but realizes there is no escape to what has been said. Instead, he leaves the hotel and is driven back by the blizzard and by the whirlwind of his emotions that suddenly overwhelm him forcing him to face Becky’s emotions and his feelings.

In the end, Becky's voice causes Stewards façade to shatter and the loop to end.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Premium Harmony by Stephen King

Premium Harmony
King’s cynical portrayal of husband who happily trades in his wife’s death for a free purple ball, a soda, and the freedom to smoke in peace.

The Purple Ball
The couple in this story are caught in a power play about insignificant issues such as difference between a few cents, Little Debbies, purple balls, and cigarettes. Life revolves around the more bizarre and insignificant aspects of our society. A need for a certain color ball, a t-shirts which say “My Parents Were Treated Like Royalty in Castle Rock and All I Got Was This Lousy Tee-Shirt, and a husband itemizing the purple ball and the soda the managers offers him on the house, when his wife just died, but then noticing that the offer does extend to the cigarettes.

The Mechanical Rabbit
By the end of the story, the husband, same as the mechanical rabbit King invoked in his first few lines, fails to be changed by his wife’s death. His life remains as meaningless as before he lost his wife and in the end the reader is left with a grim picture of a husband enjoying his cigarettes in an air condition car, indifferent to his wife and her dead dog in the back seat. From this vantage point, the reader can only imagine he will continue to lead this apathetic meaningless mechanical life and the plastic rabbit continues to run in circles.

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