I brought with me a copy of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer on this trip, for two reasons: to reread and see what I liked about it oh so much so many (12? 15?) years ago when I first read it, and to share it--this "shocking," "dirty" little book--with Oksana (in the pictures below), who speaks and reads English nearly fluently.
I was reading along but this time I found the book, well, sometimes interesting, but mostly trite. It really once appealed to my adolescent mentality, inspite of the misogyny and anti-Semitism, which I remember bothering me then (but it bothered me much more now). This time reading it, I had to keep reminding myself that it was written in the 1930s, that few had ever written like this or of such things, that in its day it certainly was not trite as it was a modernist reaction to the stuffy artisty of people like Henry James, a rejection of the realist literature, that I, in fact actually like a great deal more than Miller's (or Kerouac's) prose, etc.
So this time, Miller seemed like a hack and James a real artist. I couldn't really get into it this time, and handed it off to Oksana long before finishing it. Am I getting old?
Well, Oksana read it, was intrigued by it (the language and scandalous themes weren't shocking for her, though; she is quite modern), and when she finished it, she summed up the book quite well by saying, "Here, it was interesting, but you can have that bastard back. . ."