Friday, December 4, 2009

the struggle

Recently, I have been captivated by authors who decide to share their subjective experiences of objective occurences. Two particular authors that have swept me away most recently are Joan Didion and Guillermo Rosales. Whether it is a compilation of existential essays or a fictional-autobiography, each author recounts his or her struggle in coming to terms with the tumultuous turns of life.

Captivatingly simple, Joan Didion's, The White Album, is a collection of her essays about the 1960's. The topics range from the Manson trial to the Black Panther movement to her experiences with migraines. With a grace I have never encountered in non-fiction before, she measures her own feelings against the strength of Doris Lessing and the Women's Movement. Her intimate account of this and other significant historical shifts leaves the reader feeling a greater sense of humanity. That's what Didion is: humanity. Although she got a job at Vogue fresh out of college, her writing doesn't resonate an ounce of righteousness. Instead, more often than not, she witstands her humility. She is considered under the realm of new journalism, prose for the daily paper. Utterly inspirational.

On the darker side of the eclipse is Guillermo Rosales. A diagnosed schizophrenic who was exiled from Cuba during the early dictatorship of Castro. He spent his time in homes and institutions in Miami which gave him the inspiration to write his fictional biographical novela, The Halfway House. Published posthumously, the novela describes the main character's, William Figueras, experiences in a halfway home. Always on the edge of sanity, William falls in love with another tenant of the home, Frances. They plan to move out of the home and get married. As the story unfolds, the reader finds Rosales' interpetation of beauty in his descriptions of destruction. He uses disturbing images of the squalor and insanity in the home as an ode to the strength of the human spirit. Humanity is perseverence. That's what Rosales is: humanity. Although tough at times, one can persevere these shocking details because the writing is simple. Simple because it needs to be. The graphic nature is the context and would be lost in literary jargon. Just knowing that Rosales experienced a similar degradation is heart-breaking. He committed suicide at the age of 47 after attempting to burn all his works. The Halfway House survived.

Although different genres, these two authors have struck an emotional chord. Decay, beauty, destruction, love, change, hope, and ultimately, death: the very fibres of human life. The struggle.

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