Friday, April 27, 2012

Lord Jim - Joseph Conrad

Lord Jim is a young shipmate aboard the Patna, in a moment of terror and confusion he abandons his ship and all it's passengers along  with the ship captain and a few other crew members. They assume the ship has hit something along it's bottom tearing open a wound in the hull and while the passengers, unaware of the danger continue to peacefully sleep, the terror and the immediacy of the situation causes the crew to panic and run for their lives. As they pull away from the boat a heavy mist rolls in and for a moment there is complete silence. The boat has sunk and the reality of the situation slowly begins to dawn on them.

Only the boat hasn't somehow manages to limp into port and Jim is left with tangible evidence of his cowardice. To leave your ship is an unpardonable sin, but psychologically it is not a rule or regulation that strips Jim of his dignity it is his own base humanity that chose flight over honor. Jim is haunted by this one pivotal moment in his life and spends the rest of his life running from the memory of his sin. From port to port he takes jobs far beneath is competency in order to hide in their anonymity. 

This book had all the makings of a great book. I was expecting a page turner, a cliff hanger a suspense-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-not-breaking-to-pee kind of book....instead I felt like I was inside the movie Inception...only instead of dreams within dreams, I was lost within overlaying narratives. So Marlow is telling Jim's story, but occasionally the person listening to the story pipes in and says something and occasionally Marlow pulls the narrative along through interpreting letters or relaying overheard conversations. All of which serve to make the story slightly separated from the reader. This is an INTENSE story! Anyone can relate to this whether or not we have faced our cowardice or not there is always the potential that we are cowards. No one can know truly if one is actually a coward or not unless they have been put in a snap judgement situation between honor and cowardice. I would like to think I would choose honor...but it's raining (and we know how I am about a little weather) it's slick and slippery. It's late at night. You work with a bunch of people you probably hate so there isn't much solidarity...and then there's a crash. The boat rocks and sways. As Jim does, you quickly calculate the amount of passengers on the boat and the amount of life rafts...someone calls your name and through the darkness you are faced with life if you go or certain death if you point is I never really felt intimate with Jim for the rest of the story. I shared one moment that hung in the air....and waited for the next to begin but it was constantly shrouded in endless soliloquies and third party narrative. 

I liked Heart of Darkness WAY better...but for some reason that wasn't on the list. Harold of these days we need to have a conversation.

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Henry V - William Shakespeare

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