Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Michael Cunningham's The Hours: while the rest of 'em visited the dead . . .

Spent the entire day in Quezon City, reading Michael Cunningham's The Hours. The novel revolves around three characters: Clarissa, a bohemian 50-year old who organizes a party for a friend, almost her lover at one point in time; Virginia (as in Woolf), the writer recovering from her mental instability at Richmond, dying to go back to London where much of the action is; and Laura, a wife who takes on the challenge of baking the perfect cake for her husband. Cunningham's prose is breathtaking; he writes beautifully, and this is probably why I enjoyed this book so much--the fascination at how a writer can capture the most palpable emotions through carefully chosen words.

Consider, for instance, these lines:
Yes, Clarissa thinks, it's time for the day to be over. We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep--it's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident, and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will invitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.
The three stories become intertwined in the end, a masterful and subtle ending that made Kuya John Dasmarinas, who lent me his copy, literally "fall from his seat." Michael Cunningham was awarded the Pulitzer for this short novel. Well deserved obviously. On hindsight I would've have enjoyed the book more had I read Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway first. I hope I get to see the movie, too, starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman.

Like I said, I'm rotating in Pyschiatry now, and I decided to take on Sigmund Freud's Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria. I saw an old paperback in my brother's bookshelf. Dora is a pseudonym for the 18-year old patient who presented with somatic symptoms and whose history of illness was rather interesting. Here Freud explores the etiology of the hysteria through psychoanalysis, a technique he developed and helped perfect. 

Many things I read here make sense because the terms are mainstays in psychiatric case discussions. I think Freud, despite all the debates and controversies regarding his work, is an excellent writer. No question about that.

My brother and Kuya John volunteered to cook dinner for us. This is bruschetta with tomato and basil, seasoned with some pepper.

It was served with pasta, topped with anchovies and basil, sprinked generously with olive oil.

Renan and I prepared the drinks: Coke with sliced lemon.You should try this combination, our latest discovery after eating at Waying. I volunteered to wash the dishes, which I do excellently by the way. (After cleaning the dirty mouse cages for my undergrad thesis, the pile of plates in the kitchen didn't look daunting.)

Kuya Arbie Magno and Ate Lavinia de Velez joined us for dinner, too, and I had a great time catching up with these old friends. Ate Vinz told me I've gotten fatter--in a good way, she said, and forced me to chronicle my funniest experiences in the hospital.

Tomorrow: the real world. 



Blogger Unknown said...

i wanna read the hours also! ive seen some parts of the movie but i wanna read it first muna so i didnt really watch it.

Wed Nov 02, 01:02:00 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Lance said...

I see it everywhere, Lei, even in second-hand bookstores. You'll have no problem finding a copy.

Wed Nov 02, 06:06:00 AM GMT+8  

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