Monday, February 24, 2003

A few months ago, I did something really insane: I joined the Folio Society.

Why would a raggedy beggar such as I, someone without so much as an ounce of class, aspire to such a bourgeois lot? Obviously, because I can’t read. Certainly I have no eyes for fine print. The deal here is the usual one, you get a pile of nice books for a few bucks, with a commitment of some kind I never bothered to read, which turns out to be four more books at prices way beyond my range.

Well, a deal’s a deal. I went through the catalogue and found the two cheapest volumes they had. One was Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, which I've always meant to read, and the other was called Diary of a Nobody, which is apparently some kind of a small classic of English wit. They were the cheapest books I could find and together, they cost about ... oh don't make me say it. I'm still in denial.

Anyway, today at lunch I finished reading the Greene novel and it's fantastic. I want to read it again, which is good considering it costs a week of lunches. It's about this 17-year-old mob leader named Pinkie, who manages to kill a down-on-his-luck journalist named Hale. The murder looks clean, except for two things. One is Ida, the good-hearted and big-breasted -- Greene never lets us forget that her tits could apply for their own zip code -- gal who sees Hale on his last day of life and suspects something fishy about his death. The other is Rose, a 16-year-old waitress who may have seen a little too much on the day of the crime. Pinkie isn't yet aware of Ida, but in Rose he sees something close to a soulmate. Rose is starved for affection and, Pinkie discovers, will do just about anything for love, even marry Pinkie so she doesn't have to testify against him. Not only that, she'll die for him, if that is what it comes to.

Brighton Rock reads like a suspenseful thriller, and I guess it is that; a thriller who went to Catholic School, and never got death, hell, sin, salvation, guilt or redemption from it's blood. The book is about damnation, more than anything else, the lure, perhaps, of inoculating yourself against the reality of evil by committing it. Something. Anyway, it's completely spellbinding and I hope to plow through its multifarious moral themes again real soon. Shit, I may even pay for it.

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