Monday, February 16, 2015

Farewell Anna. I Will Not Miss You

Last week I skipped posting in hopes of sharing the happy news today that, after eighteen attempts I have finally conquered  Anna Karenina. No such luck. How do I know I tried eighteen time?  I counted the number of bookmarks hidden throughout. None deeper than page 158.

This time, the adventure began with some background research which I generally find useful when tackling something I suspect could end in failure. I discovered that the author, Fyodor Dostoyesvsky, held this book in rather high esteem calling it a "flawless work of art".  A glowing endorsement albeit a tad egotistical, wouldn't you say? Faulkner's declaration that this is the "best book ever written." should have been enough to deter me since Faulkner is another writer whose work sweeps me directly to my frustration level within the first pages.  

Still, I persisted, thinking that following  an on-line chapter by chapter synopsis/analysis would be my key to success.  Was I surprised to discover how thorough the on-line examinations of this novel are.  In reality, had I gone that route, my reading time would have been doubled.  I struggled.  I did not want to be defeated by this task once again.  I approached the first page with informed trepidation and read the famous opening lines.  I made it through the railroad station scene and pushed on. Then the history, political intrigue and 50-60 words sentences strung together in stiff prose started getting to me.  I re-read sentences trying to figure out what I was supposed to focus on.  I made lists of characters and flow charts and semantic maps to keep relationships and sub-plots contained.  Notes began piling up.  I tried sorting and indexing them. I put them in a binder for easy access. Color coded tabs. Next came the highlighters followed by a pot of coffee and a bag of M&M's. 

Lowering my standards, reevaluating my level of literary savvy and reading aggression I figured that skimming might work - read down the center of the page and pick up key words and phrases that propel the plot. Right. Admitting defeat, I closed the book on Anna K. for the last time.  I hopped in my car and happily deposited Anna, her dalliances and her sorrows in the donation box at Goodwill.  There will not be a 20th attempt.

After that I needed something simple.  Members Only - Secret Societies, Sects and Cults - Exposed.   Ever since a college friend duped the school newspaper with a story about his entrapment by the Moonies, I have been interested in these alternative "clubs".  Randy (might or might not be his real name) convinced the crack reporter that he had been kidnapped by the cult after he finished taping an episode of his kid's TV show at an LA TV station.  The part about the TV show is true.  Randy hosted a local Romper Room style show; his character was Bongo the Clown, and he played, you guessed it, the bongos.  He was fired after making a lewd remark during a live show - but that's a story for another day.  I'll never forget my favorite quote in the entire article - and one that should have tipped the reporter, writer or at very least the advisor to the incredulity  of his claims.  He said they took him to their home base and "forced" him to eat oatmeal..

Anyway....the book neatly condensed the history, basic beliefs and operating methods behind a variety of groups.  What did I find most eye opening?  Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, is a Bildenberg member.  That makes sense.  How can a business that has yet to turn a profit be so ruthless and influential without powerful puppeteers pulling his strings and abetting him?

Thanks for stopping by.