Massive reading lists, and as am off-book now, that’ll only grow, as I continue to chart Rita’s education from beginning to end.
…And because of that, I have laundry lists, and a notebook crammed with paintings and poetry, essays and quotes, every bit as dog-eared as hers would be by mid-term. Taking it all in from her perspective brings an entirely new twist to even the good-ol-boys I’d already been familiar with…not to mention the things I’d never ventured into even myself. Her brain and mine is on a constant simmer these days…taking it in, analyzing it, and trying to put it all into terms as Rita interprets them. It’s become a game…to watch her try and put the literal to “theory.” And it’s made me closer to her and love her even more.
Rita on “Peer Gynt” by Ibsen
“S’posed to be a ‘hero’s journey,’ though dunno what the hell’s so heroic ’bout him. Peer’s a right wanker most from beginning to end, takin’ the piss, beddin’ all the virgins in town, (an’ some troll princess while he’s at it), then goes on to get excommunicated, leavin’ his mum all alone to just charity for the rest of her life. Only thing he doesn’t see to fuck up is with what’s-her-name, who’s all gone on him. He does right by her by leavin’ before he mucks all her life to hell too, only the daft girl ends up waitin’, shut up in some forest cabin for him, all her life, anyway. Eventually after he’s gone all over the globe and all, he ends up mostly back where he started, with regret and things, but what the hell can you do at that point, eh? I suppose there’s some mystical bits and spiritual things, but mostly it’s just about choices and fate. In the end, all boils down to one thing really: shite happens, and then you die.”
Rita on “The Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by Eliot
On First Read: ” What. The. Bleedin’. Hell???”
On Second Read: “Like a letter to someone he loves but has really low self-esteem and things, so never even tells her, cuz of the thousand-and-one ‘what-ifs?’ He’s so hysterical and all in his head about it, bringin’ up all these images of drowning in seas, and snickering servants and things that keep him held back, and wishin’, and spendin’ all this time puttin’ it onto paper in great detail, which she’ll never see, when if he’d just shut his buggering brain down for once and tell her, he might live happily ever after.”
Rita on “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Brown
“It’s fuckin’ fantastic, full of like themes on not puttin’ people in boxes, judging, and all holier-than-thou-ing against one another. This down-and-out orphan from the south decides she’s gonna go out and make somethin’ of herself, against all odds. And as she travels ’round from here to there, you see that she’s good for it, and does…no matter what or who comes up against her to push her back down again. She ends up, like star of her class at University film school, and prob’ly becomes a millionaire in Hollywood an’ the like one day, just cuz she listened to the voice in her like soul that said, ‘You can do and be anything you want, long as you work hard for it, and bugger them as say you can’t!’ Which I think, is like the ULTIMATE hero-story, and why I love it.”
Rita on “Howard’s End” by Forester
“A really crap book, from beginning to end. It’s all about them as has the money in life, muckin’ with them as don’t. (Per usual.) This poor bastard, Bast, just wants to educate himself about lit’rature and some of the finer things in life, but is constantly mucked with by these twat Shlegel sisters, who like make it their mission in life to treat him like their own social-science project. What if we give him money? What if we don’t? What if we invite him to tea and stimulating conversation this day, then drop him for years in between, like nothing? They lose him his job, mixin’ with these right toffs the Wilcoxes…thinkin’ they’re all high an mighty, meanwhile the poor bastard and his wife go starving-hungry, and the younger Miss S, decides it’s a good idea to haul ‘em hundred-miles ‘way from home with nothin’ to eat, just so she can shove ‘em in her sister’s and fiance’s face, like dog shite. And they only get sent away anyhow, and stay at some hotel, where the younger Miss S, keeps fuckin’ with him (literally) and his head, then outs, middle of the night, with no word or nothin’, stickin’ Bast and his wife with the bill and no way home. She tries to pay him off, eventually, to ease her conscience, but he’ll have none of it, as he doesn’t WANT hand outs, only the job he had at the beginning, so he can make his own way in life. He gets topped, (a’course) in the end, and sure the Wilcox’s have to pay a bit but not enough, and never with a drop of regret it seems, beyond the first momentary inconvenience of it. Which is why, (I said it once, and I’ll say it again), it’s a crap book, and I’ll stick with Dickens who give a poor down-n-out bastard a break, once in a while.”
Rita on “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Wilde
“Right, this fella who wrote it is so dead clever at makin’ fun of his own mates in society an’ all, it ’bout busts a gut sometimes. Problem is, it’s all so civilized in talk and all, you gotta really look into what they’re sayin’, else it goes right past yuh, like a speedin’ bullet before you know what’s what. It’s supposed to be ridiculous an’ all, and it is, but posh-like as well. Never thought cucumber san’wiches could be grin-makin’ but they are, and were, and I suppose if you had to pin it all down to somethin’ with meanin’…it’s how silly the topps can be, when they try so hard to be terribly civilized, you know?”
Rita on “Macbeth” by Shakespeare
“A Dead. Fuckin’. Good. Play! Right?! All full of blood an’ guts, true…but like a thriller it keeps yuh on the edge of your seat with like wonderin’ how in the hell he’s gonna finally meet his doom. Cuz you KNOW he will. Right? I mean, it’s inevitable. Cuz like the poor bastard brings it on himself, right? It’s not enough to like be the apple of the kings eye, and a dead good soldier, no…you gotta want more, and more…and tempt fate at like every turn, don’t yuh? And with that shrieking harpy of a cow wife, pushin’ yuh all the while, never satisfied herself, well…he’s just doomed then, isn’t he? But they keep yuh guessin’ how, what with the witches riddles and all that, ’til in the end he’s facing Macduff and it comes out what the prophecy means, and you’re all like, ‘Ooooohhhhhhh! Buggard YOU, didn’t it?!’ When all he had to do, to lead a life of contentment and honor, was just not be a greedy-guts. So there’s your lesson.”
Rita on “Songs of Innocents and Experience” by Blake
“It’s all about deeper meanings, and that. Cuz like, at first…seems he’s just writing ’bout nature and childhood and God and the like…but it goes deeper than that. Like an onion, you know…it’s got all these layers you can peel away, gettin’ stronger all the time you peel one off for the next. Cuz of that, I like it…cuz it’s like open to interpretation that way, isn’t it? Like I can see this, an’ you can see that, but both-ways we can be right, cuz it’s like our ‘take’ on the experience he’s goin’ off about. Takes longer to read that way, a’course, but worth it in the end, for some of the gold you find after pannin’ around a bit.”
Rita on “Amours” by Lawrence
“Well, Lawrence bein’ like the king of porn in his day, is dead fun to read on account of his attention to detail and things. Know how you sometimes get lost in the videos on like the plot and things? Never happens with Lawrence, he’ll tell yuh ’bout it down to the last blade of grass in detail…which just makes it like, a much more rewarding experience to take in and write on. This book was mostly full of the frustrations of sexual desire…and how like sex mucks everything up, whether you’re havin’ it or not havin’ it. And also, how relationships shift and change as time does too…with family, with lovers, with yourself, even.”
Rita on “The Seagull” by Chekhov
“Right, this one is confusin’ as everyone keeps goin’ off ’bout how funny it is, in write-ups an’ all, only I don’t see it. What I read is tragedy after tragedy. Everyone loves the wrong people, until their so in a misery about it they do things like marry other people just in hopes to get over it, and commit suicide and things. This one famous writer, like takes advantage of this one young girl wants to be an actress, buggers with her a bit til she has a kid and is all reputation-ruined, and leaves her flat. Meanwhile, this Constantine fella keeps trying to write a masterpiece but everyone just makes fun of him, and all the while he’s already in a misery about losin’ the love of his life to that wanker writer (whose boffing his mum, already as well.) Seems just missed opportunity one after the other, on like constant wave, people wasting away and miserable for it…and every bleeding thing I read on the topic seems to think this is somehow amusing. Maybe for sadists, but I dunno.”
Rita on “Responsibilities and Other Poems” by Yeats
“All full of classical legends of the Irish…but dreamy and kinda sing-song. Then there’s this poetic play at the end, ‘The Hour Glass,’ which was the best part as it like brought all the rest together. Its belief and tradition and the new world and intellectualism infringin’ on the past. It’s like this warning, about being responsible and accountable for and to the future, to find a balance of old and new, to not forsake ourselves…whatever that means individually, no matter how mucky-muck we become in a world of science and letters.”
…A taste of what it’s like to play in her head.
Dead fun, right?
Am so lovin’ this ride!