Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Catcher in the Why, God, Why?

Indian bloggers tend to fare poorly on review around these parts. So when I received my assignment and saw that it was, in fact, a young Indian blogger I'd be reviewing, I was understandably apprehensive. But I'm an open-minded gal so I delved right in, determined to form an unbiased opinion. One thing became perfectly clear to me right from the start: The author of Slow Tumbling Life is afflicted with that naval-gazing disease which renders him overly fascinated with every little thought in his head. I empathize; I too have suffered from this same affliction. But he has an exaggerated case of this particular illness. This guy is so fascinated by his own mind that he expressed a desire to buy some techno device that would enable him to have a conversation with himself.

It's difficult for me to describe what exactly this blog is about. There are posts about time travel, boring, overly detailed descriptions of mundane events, and fictional conversations with his dog, Cookie (which are, in essence, conversations with himself). This blogger can write very well, actually, but the problem is that you have to dig through a lot of boring shit to find the good stuff. His blog about being sent to boarding school at the age of 6 was one such treasure. But then he gives us this, which is quite frankly the most boring combination of words I have ever had the misfortune to lay my eyes upon.

He likens himself to Holden Caulfield, which is really annoying to me. Instead of an actual profile we get a quote from Catcher in the Rye. Great. I liked the book as much as anyone, but I feel as if Holden is such a typical hero for angsty teenagers and young adults. They need to get a new fucking hero already. The blogger is of the opinion that "you are branded super intelligent almost as soon as you feel, or rather you convince others that you feel, alienated and that angst runs through your arteries." And this couldn't be further from the truth as far as I'm concerned.

He has an aggravating way of jumping around to different topics on the same post. Sometimes the beginning part of a post will be excellent and funny and then the end will suck. Such as on this post which starts off about his confusion at bathrooms that are gender identified by elephants' asses and ends up about some boring movie or something. I don't know.

Some of the descriptions of events in this blog are downright baffling to me. Take this for instance (as he describes how he is crazy like Holden Caulfield):
I really do some of the same crazy things, though. Honest to God. Like I remember a few months ago our family (my parents, my brother and sister in law, and me) got into this terrific war. It must have lasted for about 6 hours. Me against all of them. All of us fell sick after the fight I remember, it was so ferocious! But I remember at one point I left everybody to go to the loo; and inside I stood in front of the giant mirror and smiled and made crazy faces for quite a while. I wasn't upset at all. Then I went back and rejoined the ruckus. I was laughing silently and all in the loo. This and other such insanities are an integral part of my daily existence...

What the fuck is that about? Am I the only person who finds this family interaction slightly creepy?

The template is pretty standard and non-offensive. The site is easily navigated. I actually like the header image and it seems appropriate considering that this blog is basically a virtual explosion of its author's brain. The blogger readily acknowledges that fact. Personally, I prefer more heart in my blogs. The bloodier, the better. And this blog is desperately lacking in heart. I wish this blogger would take his own advice:
I think one should write if they have something interesting to say; not try and say anything in an interesting manner.

And stop thinking things like this: "things might change around me but slowtumblinglife’s life will forever be inherently tragic." You went to a fancy boarding school, have a good job, come from a nice family, employ a cook, a maid and someone to iron your damn clothes for you. I'm having a hard time seeing the tragedy.

Maybe this blog is great and I'm just not intellectual enough to grasp its utter brilliance. Maybe I can't enjoy it completely because of the cultural differences that exist between this blogger and me. As I said above, this blogger can write well and I found some parts that I really enjoyed reading. They were just too few and far between.

So, it's a .

38 comments:

  1. Great review, although much too gentle. That blog deserved at least one flaming finger.

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  2. Sylvia Wrath!

    Best pseudonym ever!

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  3. Jesus, who are all these new reviewers?

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  4. Also, I wasn't asking Jesus to answer that question.

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  5. They're new reviewers.

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  6. The Real Jesus Christ10/08/2009 11:57 AM

    Hi Dad. Will you read me a story?

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  7. I'm trying to figure out who this one is. I think I might know.

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  8. "I think one should write if they have something interesting to say; not try and say anything in an interesting manner."

    I think this is crap, and it's a cop out excuse for lack of creativity. Having something interesting to say is extremely important, but I would rather read a bullshit rant on the price of eggs, rather than an expose of "why I'm like Holden Caulfield," as long as it was told in an neat way.

    Interesting people make dumb things interesting.

    Also, Holden Caulfield is only a bullshit hero for people who are too afraid to really believe in anything.

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  9. Also, if you really want to prove you're like Holden Caulfield, don't just fucking say, "I'm like Holden Caulfield." Just by saying it, you negate the similarities. Haven't you read that book?

    Sorry. I can't stand Catcher in the Rye.

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  10. Shutup, Jesus.

    I fucking hate 'Catcher in the Rye'. It is by far the worst fucking book I have ever read. I will not have my son read it. I will fight any school on this.

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  11. Make me, Key. :)

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  12. Make me, Key. :)

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  13. Key, I think it's a book everyone should read so they can all understand the obnockshery of HC. It's like a lesson in struggling apathy. You have all of these dreams and you act on nothing, and complain that nothing changes. Go fuck yourself.

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  14. I can make you twice, nazarene.

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  15. yeah, Rass, I still think my boy would be better off not being exposed to that shitpiece.

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  16. Well...I ummm...I just don't get it.

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  17. Key - I thought you were going to church now.

    Rassles - That sentence is the one that stood out for me to as the biggest horseshit on earth. Say anything in an interesting manner and I love you. Say something interesting in a lame manner and I hate you.

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  18. The Real Jesus Christ10/08/2009 12:48 PM

    Come on Dad, please read me Catcher in the Rye?

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  19. Exactly. Why would you take something interesting and make it suck?

    That's what flaming fingers are for.

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  20. Even when a writer describes things very carefully, I don't like to read it unless there is some central narrative tension. Maybe if Slow Tumbling Life concentrated more on storytelling his thoughts would come out in a way that captivates me. Even Catcher in the Rye has a story. The snarky observations might be what makes Holden seem cool to people, but no one would have finished the book unless they wanted to find out where he'd be at the end of his runaway night.

    I wasn't wild about Catcher myself. Read it at 14, 18 and 22. Never got into it.

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  21. I liked it better at 43 than I did at 23. Maybe because it's my job to catch kids who fall through the cracks, somehow.

    But I can think of better books for my kids to read, truthfully.

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  22. I mean, the book itself is fine, whatever. I just really don't like HC. Never did, even when I was sixteen.

    By the way, S. Wrath: nice review. "the bloodier, the better."

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  23. Hello SW,

    What can I say I couldn't agree with your review more.

    The Blog is in fact filled with much mundane stuff, it is mostly from a time I had little to do otherwise.

    Nowadays I spare the blog my every boring thought.

    Oh, but maybe you should try some of the short stories. You might like those, and if you don't, what can I say? I should just go die or something..

    Anyway,
    Nikhil.

    PS - Also guys stop it with Holden Caulfield. I mean say what you like, actually, all I'll say is that I never really meant it to be in the About Me bit. Honestly. Just too lazy/lacking-of-ideas to put something else up.

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  24. You can't imagine how happy I would be if the links opened in a new window. And I didn't have to crawl between the links and the post on a dial-up connection. Rural life - can't beat it with a big stick.

    The review? What Sci Fi Dad said, plus general opinion of Catcher in the Rye.

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  25. Slowtumblinglife - Now, now, now, don't go "die or something". As I said in my review, I think you are a good writer. Your "Autumn Leaves" post was great and if I get a chance I will check out the short stories. There was just a lot of stuff to read on your blog and most of it had me dozing off. Your more recent stuff is definitely better but still a snoozefest.

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  26. I did not read HC until I was in my 30's and I ended up liking the book far more than I thought i would.

    The whole debate about style over substance is what rassles has hit on I think.

    There maybe some cross talk here.

    I have a friend I get in debates with all the time. He wants to write a book because he has had some interesting stories.

    In fact if you ask the average person they think their life is so interesting that it deserves a full blown book, but that;s just because their lives are interesting to them.

    And even if their lives are interesting that does not mean they can tell the story in an interesting way.

    I think the other thing is does someone's brilliant style (here i am thinking of a David Mamet who I can love!) or the guy who wrote and directed BLOoM BROTHERS-i liked brick) obfuscate and confuse us into thinking we are seeing or reading greatness when all we get is flashiness.

    Flashiness is fun and cool and it can wow you. But ultimately it lacks heart. Sometimes the flash makes it good enough for you to want to take a ride with it, but a lot of time technical skill that prodigious fails to develop any other parts of the story telling genius that is needed to get us to identify or love a story.

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  27. Well said, Romius. You can pretty a story up with interesting words, but if there is no substance to the story in the first place it wouldn't work for me. I also agree that some people have interesting stories to tell, they just don't know how to tell them. I think Slow Tumbling Life does have some cool experiences to expound on, but he failed to captivate me. I just never got a real sense of who he was. Maybe he doesn't know and that's why he's quoting Catcher in the Rye in his About Me.

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  28. It not for Catcher in the Rye I would have never read Salinger's short stories or learned about the Glass family.

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  29. hereinfranklin: Nine Stories is one of my favorite books of all time. In an entirely different class from Catcher.

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  30. I loved A Perfect Day for Bananafish!

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  31. I think Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters is my favorite. And A Perfect Day for Bananafish. Shit...my favorite is all of them!

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  32. And Teddy -- I remember reading that and bawling.

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  33. I guess it all just depends on your definition of interesting. I feel like someone can write about a piece of toast and make it interesting, or a paper clip. But to take a good story and dull it up with horrible narration is just a fucking crime.

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  34. And I've never read any other Salinger.

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  35. It's ok, Rass. We'll always have Ignatius.

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  36. I've tried to like Catcher in the Rye. I've really, really tried. But it bores the shit out of me. It's too masculine and too blah for a naturally sunshiny motherfucker like me.

    And Tumbling is boring too. But, if it hadn't been for him, there wouldn't have been this post, and there wouldn't have been all the comments, and I wouldn't have know that Franklin like Nine Stories, and I would be possibly missing something good.

    So, for all the dross comes some glow.

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  37. Rassles - try Franny and Zooey, it's much better than CITR.

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Grow a pair.