“When you leave home to follow your dreams, your road will probably be riddled with potholes, not always paved in happy Technicolor bricks. You’ll probably be kicked to the ground 150 million times and told you’re nuts by friends and strangers alike. As you progress you may feel lonely or terrified for your physical and emotional safety. You may overestimate your own capabilities or fail to live up to them, and you’ll surely fall flat on your face once in a while.” ― Kelly Cutrone
I went home.
There’s a reason coming home stories are a cliché in fiction. So many of us can connect as we grow up and move into the future, leaving our pasts lingering like a thick mist that hovers until we return. Friends. Beliefs. Heartaches. In our new lives, experiences carve us into something different until we feel unrecognizable as our friends and family shriek with joy and clutch us into their arms.
It’s a nine-hour drive from Janesville to Wisconsin. Nine hours that start with gentle rolling hills and trees into the flat lands that start shortly after LaCrosse. As if God left a foot print in a muddy field. We climbed into the Mini Cooper at 4am because I’d spent the whole night in bed trying to sleep. 4am is when I gave up. Jaz slept in the passanger seat with the tattered baseball quilt I’d made him pulled over his head. I wonder about the day he’ll have to give up that piece of his history.
I have a nice collection of podcasts on writing that I was excited to listen to as we traveled through the wakening day. For some reason, they wouldn’t play. So, I turned instead to an audio book. Chuck Palahniuk’s “Survivor”. And I learned so much more.
I love Palahniuk’s work. Particularly his refreshing honesty and twisted insights. I rather enjoy that he writes as if you were actually the character, bouncing around in their thoughts. Our thoughts are not long, beautiful descriptions of a field. That’s contrived. Instead, our thoughts are observations, opinions, and lists. I think in lists. Although, not as long as Chuck’s lists. They did, sometimes, ramble on forever. Lesson learned…check. There was a point when the book seemed to ramble on forever as well. As we neared Watertown, I was shouting, “Wrap it up, Chuck!” No such luck. We had another hour to finish on the way back. Lesson learned…check. Maybe there’s something to be learned from listening to Audiobooks.
It was a story about Tender Branson. The beginning of the story captivated me. A simple story of a surviving member of a religious cult called the Creedish. Children raised as servants with fear of human pleasure. This simple man living a simple life in servitude to a couple symbolizing the extreme opposite. And in servitude to the church. Not God, but the church doctrine in which he was raised.
But nothing in life stays the same and his life swings on a different path.
I like the book. Or maybe I like the concept of the book. Maybe I can’t decide.
I like how everything, from people to objects, have meaning. That’s how I like my writing. Everything mentioned has a meaning, whether it be a dashboard bobble head or a pet fish on the refrigerator. I love that some of his characters don’t have names. Some characters don’t need names. Nameless is sometimes stronger.
What bothered me most was his lack of focus. Thus, has always been my biggest struggle with Palahniuk’s work. He tackles too many themes. In this book…sex, religion, celebrity, family, etc. In the end, I felt as if there were topics that were dropped. Left for dead and never really tackled.
I criticize because I know that it’s the same thing I do in my own writing. I tackle too much and themes get left untouched. Like an enormous prepared dinner.
My favorite part of the book was towards the end. A scene where he reminisces about home and his innocent childhood. His longing for the easy days. All the while, he’s being told that his memories are wrong. I think this theme could have gone somewhere. Yet, it still struck a chord.
How deep do writers have to dig into a theme? Or can they, like Palahniuk, just touch on it and leave the reader to hash it out for themselves? These are the questions I’m left with. So, I can’t say if I liked the book or hated it. The best kind of book there is.
Or maybe I just wanted something more inspirational as we pulled into Watertown, South Dakota. Maybe I was screaming “Wrap it up, Chuck” because I wanted answers.
In the end, it turned out okay.