Monday, February 11, 2008

The book meme

That Divine Democrat, the Flying Nunly, tagged me (fortunately not on the noggin) to do a book meme in which I:

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more.

2. Find page 123.

3. Find the first 5 sentences and read them.

4. Post the next 3 sentences. (I'll add here that I'm going to post the next 4 sentences because I'm a cheater.)

The book I'm reading right now is One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, so it's right by my bed. You know, I just remembered this second that I was supposed to read this book for a world literature survey course a million years ago in grad school. I didn't... but then I didn't read a lot of stuff I was supposed to read. More True Confessions of an English major.

Anyway--I'm reading this book now, and then I'll read the others we have by this author on the shelf (thanks to Kat's minor in Russian) after having re-read some favorite sections of his masterpiece, Gulag Archipelago, to write my "Warning Shots" post a little farther down this page. And so... to page 123. Hmm... ah yes, someone's just been told to come to the front of the prisoner formation by the guards at the work camp:
The Moldavian did so. He was ordered to stand there, his arms behind his back.

That meant that they were going to charge him with attempting to escape. They'd put him in the cells."

Earlier in the book, we're told by the guards that "A step to right or left is considered an attempt to escape and the escort has orders to shoot without warning." I'm only on page 72, so I don't know if the Moldavian stepped out of the column to the left or the right, only that he is about to be put into "the cells," like "the hole" in American prison movies, a tiny confinement cell in which you're given even less food than normal.

I don't know whether he is ever mentioned again; I skimmed down the rest of page 123 and 124 and didn't see another word about him. But then, maybe that's the point. He goes to the cells and that's it; he's never heard from again. Not on that day, or any other day, in the life of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov.


FranIAm said...

Look at you with all the book learnin' and stuff.

You so smart!

Seriously- I like this.

Mary Ellen said...

Isn't it funny how the books we were instructed to read years ago in school suddenly got more interesting?

Great job, kiddo! Let me know how you liked the book when you finished, maybe I'll add it to my list that I intend to read when I stop all this blogging stuff.

Randal Graves said...

I have never read this, but I think I want to.

And ME, I don't know, I actually liked reading Chaucher back when I was assigned it. :)

commander other said...

i struggled through about a quarter of this book in the original Russian. it's a good read, as i understand it, but military language schools don't really prepare you very well for literature. you make me want to go pick up a copy in English, though. thank you for this post!

Karen Zipdrive said...

Last year for Christmas the woman I was seeing gave me 15 volumes of classic literature.
I dutifully slogged through The Brothers Karamozov, Madam Bovary, A Tale of Two Cities and a few others, then finally we stopped dating and I was free to go back to reading Vanity Fair and true crime non-fiction.
I'm smart enough but not intellectual enough to have to endure the pain of reading serious literature.

dguzman said...

Fran--it's an act.

ME--yes! It's kind-of humbling to admit that I was too dumb to realize those teachers were just trying to broaden my mind!

Randal--I also loved Chaucer, and Beowulf is a longtime favorite read. I love it when he holds his breath for a whole day to go to Grendel's lair!

Commander--definitely worth the trouble of picking up an English version! It's not as good a translation as the one of Gulag Archipelago (different translator) but it's good.

Zip--I LOVE true crime! I'm gonna be a CSI! But I also love the literature. I just love to read, period. Magazines, cereal boxes, whatever.

GETkristiLOVE said...

The cover art is pretty cool.

Randal Graves said...

I finally encounter a chick who digs Beowulf and it's after I'm married, and she's a lesbian. Go figure. ;-)

I can hold my breath for about 30 seconds when Bush appears on the teevee. Sadly, he never disappears.

CDP said...

I might need to add this to my list.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

That is such a great book. I loved it.

Mary Ellen said...

Happy Valentine's Day, dguzman!

dguzman said...

GKL--yeah, it's that old-school kind of cover. I have to be really careful with my paperback; it was printed back in 1974!


CDP--it's a good read, so I hope you pick it up.


Thanks, ME!

Distributorcap said...

i am back
i read some trashy book my uncle gave me -- the biography of Otto Preminger -- he was a real bastard.

that is what you do on vacation -- read books about mean directors

dguzman said...

Dcap--welcome home!