Friday, April 10, 2009

Here comes the suicide

now reading: Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron

I've told you that Milton Loftis is a lawyer, right?

"'I'm interested in your work. You tell me about your cases --'
'I don't have many cases,' he interrupted, sitting down across from her; 'they bore even me. I wish I had been a poet.'" -- p. 179

Amen, brother! This is yet another mistake of Milton's that I myself have caught in time, so maybe I won't end up like him? Oh, Milton. I'm three-quarters of the way through the novel now and he is making a fine mess of everything, not the least of which is his daughter Peyton's wedding. Doom, doom, doom is all that awaits this family. We know that from the beginning of the book, but it's still a great read as we watch them fall apart.

As we get to the end, we start to see how Petyon, too, is doomed. She is a bit resilient ("to people so young there is nothing final in disaster, the disaster itself often opening up refreshing vistas of novelty, escape or freedom..." -p. 232) but as more and more happens, what resilience she does have clearly won't be enough. And girlfriend NEVER should have come back home to get married, methinks. Totally should have had the ceremony in New York and made any of the Virginians who wanted to see it go north. Not that I'm not enjoying all the comments about how foreign the "New York Jews" are to these coastal Virginian people.

Styron's descriptions of the wedding are awesome. I love how he makes the reader slowly discover what a staged happiness it is, and how he hits the nail on the head. This might be my favorite thing written about a wedding, ever:

"There is a lull in the celebration, for it is the duty of each guest to have some of the cake, although cake goes poorly with whisky or champagne, and it is the last thing the guests want to eat. Few of them would care, really, about eating, but the guests have been to too many wedings. The cake has become symbolic of something and they have to face it: it must be eaten. Besides, it would be a pity to let that huge thing go to waste." -- p. 286

Symbolism and huge ordeals abound at this wedding. It's a great scene because it is just a disaster waiting to happen, the culmination of this family's descent. But also just the first step toward their final tragic chapter. Which, I am about to go read -- the last 100 pages. Have I made you want to read Styron yet? I hope I have.

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