Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I've decided to occasionally explain some of the choices of favorite books, movies, music in my profile. Especially the books, since most of you will probably never read any of them. (In fact, I did NOT put them on there as recommendations. I put them on there because I like them, and because they all involve some kind of odd adventure by unlikely adventurers. There's not a Harry Potter, John Grisham or The Work and the Glory in the bunch.)

First on the list, Molloy, a Samuel Beckett novel, half of which is taken up by an 83-page paragraph. That paragraph is written in the voice of an old man with one leg that is completely stiff and shrinking while his "good" leg is in pain and stiffening quickly. Instead of eating, he sucks on smooth stones. He has no teeth, no social skills, cannot speak intelligibly. But still he pedals his bicycle - one-legged - to the sea, through deep forest and large city, toward his mother, who is even older and more decrepit than he. He dodges philanthropists who would save him, hermits who would befriend him and police officers who would detain him.

One great quote: "I waited until dawn to move, because I was sure I would be seen by a police officer during the night, and that he would ask me what I was doing, a question for which I have never been able to find the correct response." (I haven't either.)

He loses his bicycle, but then uses crutches and finally crawls. And (not to give away the ending, but) he never finds his mother.

Later we find out, through the eyes of a social worker sent to find him, that this epic adventure he's been on has taken place in a tiny village, a small grove of trees and on the banks of a small impoundment where the village stores its water.

There's a lot of deep stuff in the book - it's a treatise on dying and living, it explores bare existence by stripping away all social mores - but what I get out of it is this: Anyone can have an epic adventure. You don't have to go far and you don't have to compete in a 100-mile ultra-triathlon. But sometimes it helps to have a demon or two to chase.