Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wednesday is Library Day!- The dark and depressing

I read two books this last week... And both were extremely dark and depressing. I don't know how I ended up reading them both in the same week, but at least I can say I've read them and will never do so again.

The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde

From the cover: A celebrated playwright and poet, Oscar Wilde also penned incomparable nonviction and fiction- and lovely gemlike fairy tales. Filled with princes and nightingales, mermaids, giants, and kings, his tales carry the mark of his signature iron and subtle eroticism. This volume brings together all the stories found in Wilde's two collections, The Happy Prince and Other Tales and A House of Pomegranates. Published here alongside their evocative original illustrations, these fairy tales, as Wilde himself explained, were written "partly for children, and partly for those who have kept the childlike faculties of wonder and joy."

The Importance of Being Earnest is one of my favorite plays, so when I ran across this little volume of fairy tales I was delighted. I had no idea what I was picking up...
I've read several of these before- The Happy Prince, and The Birthday of The Infanta both stand out as stories I've read before, and a couple of the others felt familiar.
First off, let me say there's no way I'd let my children read this until they are at least 13. They're dark with an over-riding sense of doom, but more than that they paint a very hopeless picture of humanity.
Most of the stories portray selfishness as destruction, and self-lessness as a lost & hopeless cause. A nightingale gives up his life so that a lover can give a red rose to his girl, which she then throws on the ground and tramples...
I'm glad I read them again. The stories are all beautifully written, but I came away from this compilation sad and heart-broken for the author.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
From the Cover: Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss- her life- and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend's memory and feeling guilty for not being able to help save her.
In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on the the most important thing of all - hope.

I knew exactly what I was getting into with this novel- an honest portrayal of anorexia, depression, guilt and an excellent novel.
I hated this story and loved it.
As a teacher & minister, I was struck again with how dark the future is for kids with anorexia- how hard this disease is to overcome. As a mom I was horrified at the thought of what this poor child was doing to her body and how much it messed with her mind.
Anderson is a fantastic author- she allows the reader to experience the deterioration of Lia's thought process and the 'control' that a person with anorexia so desperately seeks through starvation and drugs. The more control she gains over her body and cravings, the less control she actually has...
Well worth the read, beautifully written.

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