“If It Isn’t Fun.” – An Intern’s Journal Resumes
The slightly premature morning headline of the Chicago Daily News, “DEWEY WINS,” was a kick. Truman’s surprising election was a great victory for liberalism. My first vote clearly counted for something!
These days my extracurricular reading progresses at an unusual rate. In addition to regularly covering articles in “Harpers,” “The New Republic,” and “The Nation,” I’ve been occupied with several books. Tonight I am enraptured by Faulkner’s “Wild Palms,” real and very dark. I appreciate Faulkner all the more these days; for example, because of this quote: “Idleness breeds all our virtues, our most bearable qualities — contemplation, equableness, laziness, leaving other people alone, good digestion, mental and physical: the wisdom to concentrate on fleshly pleasures — eating and evacuating and fornication and sitting in the sun — than which there is nothing better.”
“Wild Palms” treats youth finding uninhibited outlets in New Orleans and Chicago.“The Old Man” carries one along with an odd couple, a convict and a pregnant woman in a skiff tossed in a Mississippi flood.
In Aldous Huxley’s “Point Counterpoint,” characters and themes return to each other. In “Brave New World “ we discover the approaching wholly materialistic society with automated eugenics, total promiscuity, happiness in a pill called “Soma,” with happiness the ultimate goal of life, and finally an Indian uprising. One reviewer has labeled it an “emetic satire of striking force.” I read, too, Julian Huxley’s “Essays on the Uniqueness of Man” and “The Courtship of Animals.”
Erskine Caldwell’s “House in the Uplands” follows the degraded remnants of southern landowners left after the Civil War only to quarrel among themselves, take yellow mistresses, and squeeze the life out of the last “nigger” at their disposition. “Tobacco Road” traces the course of slow physical and spiritual starvation.
Ludwig Lewison deals in the “Vehement Flame” with monotonous monogamy and monotonous promiscuity, which he contrasts with the hope of a warm, lasting, creative love.
Truman Capote, in “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” writes the weirdest stories I’ve ever read. Quite beyond me!
Hemingway’s “Farewell to Arms,” D.E.S. Wood’s “Heavenly Discourse.” Philip Wylie’s “Finnley Wren,” and Dr. David Bradley’s “No Place to Hide,” complete my current reading.