Wednesday, May 21

What do you mean, the saddest story you've ever heard? What's so sad about it? How many stories have you heard?

Before we get to the lulz, let me say that Ruth Franklin's essay on Chinua Achebe is pretty okay, and from here forward I'll consider it absolutely indispensible and it will aways have a place in my heart for making me aware of the following:

Achebe once called the concept of art for art’s sake "just another piece of deodorized dog shit."


Moving on. Later in the essay, Franklin writes:

“Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond.” From the first line of “Things Fall Apart”—Achebe’s first novel—we are in unfamiliar territory. Who is this Okonkwo whom everybody knows? Where are these nine villages?

Other Intriguing Questions Raised By Famous First Lines, by Ruth Franklin

Call me Ishmael.
Call who Ishmael? You? Is that your name? Why can't I call you by your real name? Wait, who are you talking to? Who's doing the calling?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
What do you mean by best? What do you mean by worst? What time are we talking about? Does this book take place on Earth?

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
Where were you born? What was your lousy childhood like? Were your parents occupied and all before they had you? And who is this David Copperfield guy? Hold on...let me run down to Books-A-Million.

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
Well, that didn't help, now I have twice as many questions.

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.
Wait...WHAT!? I'm totally lost. This makes no sense.

Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
Wait a minute...what is this hardbound collection of papers I'm holding? What are these strange markings inscribed in ink on the pages? Where am I? What am I doing here? WHO AM I!?!?

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