Thursday, June 12, 2003

The First Rule is, Buy Your Own Flowers...

I was talking about Mrs. Dalloway with my wife the other night, how, even though I love Virginia Wolff's prose, the way she builds sentences and uses words, I didn't like the book. I had thought about it for some time and came to the conclusion that it was because Mrs. Dalloway is a book written explicitly for women. Now normally I don't buy into the gender warfare crap. I love the Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington and have read a few Agatha Christy stories that were really good. But I just didn't get Mrs. Dalloway. I wanted something to happen. Anything. But it never did.

Elvira (El-vee-ta) said how she understood it because every other character in the book, no matter how trivial was centered around Clarisa Dalloway in such an intricate manner, that you didn't need for anything to happen, that it was all about repression and how one women finds ways to act out through the lives of others and escape her own restrictions, even the ones that were self imposed.

This got me thinking. I realized that there was a men's book that was a direct corollary to Mrs. Dalloway: Fight Club. Everyone in Chuck Palahniuk's book is obsessed with Tyler Durden from Marla to the Narator. It's only at the end that the Narrator realizes he is Tyler Durden and that he's been trying to find a way out of his own repressed situations, some of which, like the ones with Marla, are self imposed. Of course in Fight Club, he reaizes this through acts of terrorism.

But that's the difference between Mrs. Wolff and Mr. Palahniuk, between women and men: when men are frustrated and feel trapped by society, we beat the crap out of other frustrated men; women go buy flowers for a dinner party.

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