"As a very young man, Tom had realized that there were two kinds of people: Those who manufactured and maintained tedious, expensive shells, and those who did not. Those who did, lived in constant terror lest the shells of their own making crack open to display the weakness that was underneath, and those who did not were either crushed or toughened. After much thought, Tom had been able to put the souls of humanity on the simple, uncomplicated plane with bare feet. Some people could walk without shoes with the result that their feet grew tough and calloused, while others could not take a step without the bad luck of stepping on a broken bottle. But the majority, thought Tom with a smile, like Leslie Harrington and Fitzgerald and Connie MacKenzie, would never think of taking off their shoes in the first place."
- Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
I might write an essay comparing War and Peace to Peyton Place. After all, when I was in AP English, our delightfully wacky teacher had us interpreting the likes of Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary through the prism of M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled. (Oh yeah, it was the height of that trendy New Age in Phoenix, I do believe.) So, why not Peyton Place?
They're both delicious tomes with a multitude of characters whose lives intertwine. They both have quite a lot to say about society, frankly. They both reveal people who've done all they can to carve out their place in society's hierarchy to be no more than human beings -- just like the rest of us.
In my effort to get rid of all my earthly possessions this summer (a large project, off-putting and almost by definition impossible, very Tolstoy-esque in scope) I have found myself selling some of my used books on Half.com (a much more quotidien, practical, accessible endeavor. Very Metalious.)
I read PP a few years ago in L.A. as part of my friend Joe's Trashy Classics Book Group. I thought it was fantastic. I still feel like I know Allison, one of the main characters, and I like her very much. Plus it's so great to talk about how "scandalous" it was when it first came out. It makes you wonder if our grandchildren will watch the films of Oliver Stone and Michael Moore and just roll their eyes and ask what was all the fuss about. Or is all this "It shocked the nation" just revisionist history anyway?
As mentioned in a previous post, I cannot part with The Book (W & P) -- and no one's going to want to buy my thrashed copy anyway. But today I am sending Peyton Place on its merry way, off to work its charm on the next lucky soul.
"'Whaddya mean, get out of town? I ain't got nowheres to go, Doc. This is my home. Always was. Where am I gonna go, Doc?'
'Straight to hell,' said the doctor. 'But failing that, anywhere you've a mind to go. Just get out of Peyton Place.'"