Wednesday, January 30, 2013



This is one of those books that keeps popping up. Sometimes as a pop culture or literary reference in a book you are reading. Or, it comes up on some literary list of banned books or books that revolutionized the industry (at the time). It's often touted as a 'must read', on the same level as say 1984. So, when it is sitting on your living room bookshelf it is bound to be read at some point. That is what happened in our humble abode. It was taken from the shelf, read by my wife, then passed onto me.
The actual book we have is ancient. As pictured above, it has the price of 50 cents listed on the front, it has the edges of the pages dyed that strange green colour, and according to the inside cover was printed in the late 50s. Our copy is also falling apart at the seams - literally. After my wife read through it, the book broke into three pieces, strangely, almost matching the three sections of the book. But, the best part is the smell. It's that smell of old paper, like a used bookstore with too many paperback romance novels sitting on the twirly rack near the door. Mmmm.
It is hard to fathom why this book was banned at one point. I guess the book does have frequent, if brief, discussions on the topic of sex. Most of it is theoretical, but, I guess just the fact that it is sometimes the centre of a dialogue between character was pretty taboo back in '58. My how things have changed. Fifty Shades is now front and centre on the display case at my local library, which not only discusses sex in the theoretical but is what one might almost call a how-to or play-by-play narrative.
I can see why this book launched a soap opera with the same title. Everything in it is over the moon dramatic, which would be great for daytime tv. For eg. when a young girl becomes pregnant, it's her drunken Step Father's baby! When someone commits suicide, they hang themselves in the closet of a hormonal teenager that was rude to her earlier that day! And so on, and so on. There are many stories lines in this book and they all seem to be this extreme and dramatic. You really never know what is going to happen, but, you desperately want to find out.
As you read, the dirty little secrets of this town start to spiral out of control. Big things, like murder, start happening.
But, in the end the town takes on being a character in its own right and forgives any unlawful murder.
It was very well written and kept me turning pages (even if they did fall out). Considering it was written in the 50's most of it was still very relevant. On a warm June night, I might even agree that this is one of those books you should read before you die.


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