Reading Rage Tuesday: The most depressing books I’ve ever read.
So, booksluttians, I have not been feeling well lately. I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to have the energy to write this post today, and I’m still not entirely sure that I won’t just give up halfway through and leave you mid-sentence because I ran out of steam. BUT I’M TRYING DAMMIT.
I’ve been depressed lately. Well, really, for like six years now, I’ve been more or less depressed. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve spent a good half of my life depressed. (It’s fun to be me.) Recently, though, it’s been worse than usual. Most of what I have been up to consists of laying on the couch and wanting to eat Baconators. Allie Brosh captured the feeling pretty well:
I’ve also been completely uninspired when it comes to the Reading Rages–not so much because there’s no material, but because I can’t work up a good rage these days. That takes way more energy than I can tap into. Is this writer’s block? I’m too depressed even to be mad that I have writer’s block. Oh, my stats are in the toilet because I haven’t been writing? I better have some nuggets with my Baconator. And maybe a Frosty.
So I thought this morning, hey, why don’t I funnel this depression into a reading rage somehow? Moping around is almost like raging, but with less energy. Both require a sort of dark fatalism that I have in the bag, yo. With a side of fries.
THE MOST DEPRESSING BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
I’ve talked about this book before in the top five books that turned me into a crybaby. I never said this was going to be all-new material, and in fact, it probably won’t be. It takes energy to think up new shit.
Flowers is a book that I can actually no longer read because it makes me cry and cry, and then cry and cry, and then–wait for it–cry. If you haven’t read it, you probably should if you like crying. It’s about a man named Charlie (if you’ve seen the film Charly, that’s the same story) who is developmentally disabled. Charlie undergoes a radical experiment that would never have gotten into the human testing stages because, ethics; the experiment, heretofore only tested on lab mice, is designed to increase intelligence. It works crazy-well, taking Charlie from disabled to genius in a relatively short time. He spends the majority of the book in isolation, first not bright enough to understand the world, and then so bright that the world doesn’t understand him.
Then? The experiment fails. Charlie reverts, and that plunge back toward his beginning state is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read in all of literature. Charlie is distraught during the process. He’s trying desperately to hang on to just a little bit–something–to remember. He forgets everything, of course. I spent most of the second part of the book wailing my eyes off. I’m sure part of the moral of the story was that he was happy enough before, and not so happy when he was a supergenius (I haven’t read the book in years because, did I mention I cry?), but–there’s also the reader’s experience. A lot of people who read for pleasure have not-so-low IQs. Despite not having participated in risky experiments, the thought that I could lose all of my intelligence depresses the almighty crap out of me. Charlie’s panic to hang onto just a few morsels of his new intelligence cements the feeling.
A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain
“But Susie,” you’re saying. “You LOVE Anthony Bourdain.” You’re right, I do love Anthony Bourdain. He’s a hell of a writer and a badass to boot. When he talked about quitting smoking in Medium Raw, his basic defense against a legion of fans who loved him for being a drinking, smoking bad boy was “Yeah, I quit–I did it because I have a kid now and I’m making decisions for my family’s best interest. If you don’t like it, go fuck yourself.” (Paraphrased, of course.) I basically idolize Bourdain, as much as I idolize anybody, which is not that much.
The reason that I count A Cook’s Tour among my most depressing books is that it’s personally depressing. It’s depressing because I will never have his job. I would get divorced to have his job. (No, really. Okay, maybe not really, but I would think about it.) I have a love-hate relationship with Bourdain and No Reservations because of a deep-seated, abiding state of intense jealousy. I will never get to go to Vietnam. I will never get to bum around Old Havana and look at the beautiful architecture. I’ve barely even been out of the U.S. Being poor does not lend itself well to travel, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting to do ALL THE TRAVELING.
Also? I have this thing where I get a weepy when I read about Mexico. I love Mexico and I miss it. Between having moved to Ohio and all of the beheadings and whatnot happening down there, I imagine it will be a long time before I visit again. (I rather enjoy having a head. Maybe that’s just me?) Knowing that I’m so cut off from one of my favorite places puts me in a grumpy mood; reading about how awesome it is puts me in an even grumpier mood.
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Willy Loman is a hot mess. He gets fired from his job. His sons don’t show him any respect. His attempt to live vicariously through Biff fails utterly when Biff turns out to be as unsuccessful as Willy is. He also appears to be going senile. Willy tries to redeem himself, and Biff, in the best way he knows how: he crashes his car and kills himself in the end, in the hopes that Biff will use the insurance money to start his own business. Only Biff doesn’t even want to start his own business, so it was all for nothing. Depressing.
I would write more, but this post is interfering with my laying on the couch time.
Sorry. I know, this post was short and even less happy than usual. My husband has been bugging me all morning and now I’m depressed and annoyed and I don’t feel like writing now. Also, I keep clicking things that are screwing up my browser and it’s pissing me off. MY FINGERS ARE TOO FAT FOR TYPING.
This post doesn’t have to be over, though. Nay! You can pop down into the comments and tell me what books depressed you the most. Which books did you barely have the energy to chuck across the room when you were done? Which books made you cry and cry because they were just so damn sad? If you can’t think of any, tell me the most fun thing you did last week.
Just so this post doesn’t end on a completely depressing note:
So, first–I’m sorry if comments are being held for moderation. Apparently, when Jetpack updated and changed over my commenting system (which, I also apologize if it’s loading slow–it loads kinda slow for me and I haven’t looked deeply into how to disable it yet), it apparently reset everyone’s approval. Once you post a comment and get approved, it should be okay? I haven’t changed my moderation settings; I’m not suddenly trying to censor anybody.
Also, this happened on my way to puppy-sitting. We all knew it would: