Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ryan Call Gets All Russian on Your Pizdy

Ryan Call posted at HTMLGIANT today about his reading of Dostoevsky's novels The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, and it was nice to see someone appreciate the work rather than want to tear it apart and justify why the world would be none the worse if the books got revised out of human history. None of the wrinkle-nosed "Eew, a classic! It must be boring and out of touch." I think Ryan does a fine job of balancing his explaining that, no, reading Dostoevsky is not the same as reading Gary Lutz, and that that's not a bad thing; both are brilliant and magical, they just "make different parts of [the] body light up." That's a great way to say it.

There are not many recent, enormous contemporary social novels that have affected me this way, except for Infinite Jest and maybe some others that I cannot name right now - my bookshelf is currently full of story collections and other short books, so I’m not really reading big social novels anyhow. Maybe that’s why. But I have to admit that reading The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov creates in me a different effect than when I read the work of, say, Gary Lutz, or I don’t know, who else? My point is this: it was a relief to be able to feel concern for characters as if they were real people. I don’t know why, but it felt good to worry about them. See, when I read Lutz, different parts of my body light up, specifically, parts in my head. It is a different kind of reading that I apply to Lutz’s pages: more grammatical/mechanical, less concerned with the fleshy bits. Is anyone familiar with what I’m describing? I’m curious to know if others have found themselves enjoying a suddenly different way of reading? I mean really enjoying it because it is refreshing and new? And by new, I mean, it is how I used to read long ago, before I tried to write for myself?


Jamie Iredell said...

Yes, I echo you on this Josh. It's nice to hear. There's nothing wrong--I don't think--with people getting tired of the "classics." But they're called that for a reason. Dostoevsky's pretty much the shit, I don't care what you say.

Josh Maday said...

I agree, Jamie, there's nothing wrong with getting tired of the "classics" at all. I suppose I prefer the kind of balance you're suggesting. Yeah, Dostoevsky is one of my faves no matter what.