December 13, 2008

Of Patriotism and Passion and Prostitutes

After a number of threatening voicemails and a complete block on my online account I finally finished (and returned) Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer.  (Jeez library, it was only a month overdue.  And only a couple of people had requested it.  Ease up!)

I will say though, it was one fantastically bogus book.  The narrator, Henry Miller, is an American expat writer living in Paris - aka the author shares his life story with some fictionalized stuff thrown in and calls it a novel.  It's diary-like in it's approach, and sometimes verges on stream-of-consciousness, as he shares his thoughts on everything from patriotism to passion (insert another more vulgar "P" word here if you like... I assure you the author uses MUCH worse in his own very detailed descriptions).  
The back cover describes it as one young man's "bawdy adventures"... and bawdy they are.  (The book was banned in this country for a number of years and led to an obscenity trial that tested American laws on pornography in the 1960's - thank you Wikipedia).  

And yet, Miller throws so much other highly intellectualized stuff in there, it certainly isn't some kind of throwaway erotica.  Honestly, there were so many historical and literary and philosophical references mixed in I was often left wondering how in the world we got there - I mean two seconds ago wasn't I just reading about prostitutes and yet another case of the clap?

It's a good read though.  Very honest, very quick as you move through Miller's thought processes.  I really felt like I was peering into his (very twisted, smartypants, sex-craving) brain.  Also, Miller is a master of diction.  He uses such a wide array of language, such a mix of highbrow and lowbrow culture, that it's really fantastic.  

The sequel, Tropic of Capricorn, about Miller's time in New York, is definitely on my To Read list.


lisa paul said...

For another side of the story, without the threats from the library, see the movie, Henry and June, about Anais Nin's recounting of her affairs with both Henry and his wife.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like my kind of book.

GEMMERZZ said...

definitely a read for me... i'm going to pick it up as soon as possible!

thanks for sharing. :)

Morgan said...

Did the library send Mr. Bookman after you?

the sassy kathy said...

haha!!! morgan that is too funny.