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madbkwm

madbkwm

The Tragedy of Arthur - Arthur Phillips I'm wavering on this one. On one hand, I really don't like fake memoirs; but on the other, this book is clearly marked as a novel. And he does take a moment to rip on James Frey's fake memoir, so that is worth some bonus points. On the other hand, it is a unique idea and well told. I certainly wasn't a fan of Artie my narrator/main character, but I'm not sure how autobiographical this actually is and so I don't know if that translates into not liking Arthur Phillips the author. Artie (as I will call the fictional character) needs to grow up and stop whining; I don't blame Dana for putting him on notice (although I was not sure why she so readily forgave Petra nor why their mom was so clearly on Dana's side), but I'm not sure that his intro to the TTOA would actually vindicate him in her eyes.

That said, it was a worthwhile read. I loved the theme about value. Especially coming off of American Psycho (which is a very different critique of brand names), the idea that art is not in itself valuable, but simply valuable once a label has been applied (whether that label is authentic or not is irrelevant according to Arthur Sr, but not Artie: "I still don't agree with the sentiment--that a name on a work of art matters") is a great thread throughout. Of course, we don't really value Artie's opinion on anything and so Arthur Sr. (and Bret Ellis Easton's) view that labels are EVERYTHING takes the cake.

I just didn't get Artie's love for Dana. I get the issue with his Dad (withheld affection, Artie's desire to simultaneously emulate and reject Arthur Sr, jealousy over Dana, anger about abandonment), but I don't get his issues with Dana. I'm not a twin (neither is Arthur Phillips, I think) so maybe there is something to the twin-ness (and Artie certainly goes to great lengths to describe his need to return to the conjoined state that he once achieved), but Dana does not EVER seem to feel this way. She does not have these dependency issues. She likes Artie and certainly takes care of him, but she does not really seem to need him in the way that he needs her. Nor does she idolize him in any way (and given my thoughts on Artie I would definitely think less of her if she had). Whereas Artie is so smitten as to be borderline incestuous (and we know that Jana despises Dana).

In describing Dana, Artie gives one of the best summaries of what I (personally) would like to be: "I mean, that she was already something only a few people ever become, even in adulthood. She could see the world as it was, take it as it was, could usually read people and situations (even if they didn't know themselves perfectly) and then make her own decisions about how she would exist in that world. She understood her emotions far earlier than anyone else I knew, lived unpressurized by peers. She did not fake or judge unfairly." Of course, he goes on a few paragraphs later to point out "for all her skill in reading other people, she was inept at gauging their desires. This is probably normal for someone as bookish and theatrical as she was."

He quotes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (God, yet another Arthur) and I've read quite a bit of Sherlock Holmes, but have not come across this quote...not sure if it is authentic or not, but really is quite good: "I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one's self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one's own powers." Kind of reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright's "I had to choose between an honest arrogance and a hypercritical humility... and I deliberately choose an honest arrogance, and I've never been sorry."

Finally, embedded in the fake Shakespeare he has a great quote:
"Imperfect is the glass of others' eyes
Wherein we seek in hope of handsome glimpse
Yet find dim shapes, reversed and versed again,
Which will not ease our self-love's appetites."
Everything, yep ABSOLUTELY everything can be brought back to perspective.