Twenty-Fifteen: I have been doing something that I had been putting off for far too long. I’ve gotten serious about reading, again. I’ve dusted off my paperbacks and charged up my Kindle. It has been a year to take the time to feed my poor television-adled brain with a selection of healthy, nourishing fiction. So, read on, little brain. Read on. We’ve been going Book to the Future!
Here we go again… December is Blog-Every-Day Month. No guidelines. No rules. No set topic. No nothing no how. Just an article with at least one complete sentence, every day…
December 4 …because I’m halfway done my last read of the year.
To recap, my “read 25 books in 2015” project is currently being capped off by a book called Not Wanted On the Voyage by Timothy Findley, a book that was written in the 1980s, which I bought in the 1990s, stored on my shelf in the 2000s, and am finally getting around to reading in the 2010s.
I’m about half done reading. I’d be further along, but –y’know– all that writing I was doing last month sort of ate up a lot of my free time. Excuses, huh?
This book, as I read it, is metaphor. It is built around the biblical story of Noah, who is a secondary character in this book as it happens, and his family, who are a motley cast of deeply flawed human beings who are ruled under the strict and pious thumb of the family patriarch. Also, the family cat.
It is a clever book, but perhaps a little too clever. I’m having trouble putting my own thumb on what exactly is happening (apart from the obvious building of an ark and filling it with various animals.) And by that I mean, I get the plot. I get the assorted threads of narrative and individual story lines. I get that there is a lot — a LOT — of symbolism. But yes, I’m pretty sure that this is a metaphor for –something.
I mean, why else would this have been included in my friend’s college English literature class curriculum, right?
What I am getting so far is this: that Noah comes off as a symbol of fleeting control-by-gender and the dwindling role of the father-as-family-figurehead. He rules with an iron fist, threatening and (literally) beating his wife and family, while he strongarms his sense of morality upon the same: all the while, God is portrayed as a kind of out-of-touch all-powerful wandering king with supernatural powers and a hair-trigger temper who drinks and carouses and manipulates and takes advantage of Noah’s devotion.
Noah’s family, meanwhile, scorns his heavy handedness and openly defies him as he goes on a (very real) crusade to build an ark and do all the bible-stuff that we once read about in sunday school.
Yet, my sense is that as much as the character of Noah may be an exaggerated stereotype of mid-1900s nuclear family patriarchy, the notion that you are supposed to draw from the book is that of the perspective of the oppressed (but hardly repressed) women of the group. At times you understand Noah’s (very real in the book) fear of his deity, who is (very really actually and tangibly) in the process of unleashing mass genocide upon a planet of people who have deeply disappointed his expectations. On the other hand, seen through the eyes of his wife, Noah makes choices that are deeply flawed –and while aligned with biblical morality– do not fit the standards of modern morality.
It is an interesting juxtaposition. And it’s really just starting to rain.