Friday, October 28, 2011

"Silent, White, and Beautiful" by Tod Robbins

Finally, my last post until I'm completely caught up from this weekend's shenanigans and non-literary enjoyment! Go me! Very pleased with myself for managing schoolwork, work, and illness to be able to get 2 stories read and reviewed daily this week, on top of *finally* starting Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and Will Lavender's Dominance. Quite pleased, indeed.

So yes, Tod Robbins' tale of a madman. René Galien, the story's narrator, is clearly psychopathic and disturbed, and it's incredible that this writing was able to rile up so much emotion. Mostly of shock and horror at his callousness, and dedication to his artwork, but a little bit of pity for the unsuccessful artist he was, and the sad fate of all the characters in this story.

After apprenticing for four years in Paris, and losing his mentor to a suicide, René returns to New York, to the boarding home his father lived in before his death. After a month of unsuccessfully selling his sculptures of gargoyles, nymphs, and satyrs (of which I'm sure I would have bought at least one, they seem remarkable), he winds up married and settled down with the landlady's daughter, and resigned to a life of misery with these two women he whose company he can scarcely tolerate. Of course, there's got to be a bright side to everything, right? René conjures up in his mind images and ideas of an ideal family, his "Happy Family", that he seeks to sculpt and put into clay. And of course, he wants to use his wife and mother-in-law as.. models...

Like I said, René's callousness and insanity truly astonished me. He spoke so matter-of-factly that my psych training once again took control, and I found myself thinking of him as psychotic and psychopathic, with a hint of antisocial/narcissistic personality disorder. Not that that really means anything to the average reader, but I was intrigued. Also SPOILER ALERT I'm pretty sure this story has to be the basis for the original House of Wax story.. I mean, it just has to. He was so devoted to his craft, and sought so desperately to be successful in selling his work, that he was willing to change his subject into one more appealing to the 'stupid optimistic New York public'. Yeah, apparently they don't take to the macabre as well as Paris in this story.

This was a great story, and I think having my psych experience made it even more interesting, as I got a chance to think analytically and compare this character to violent and psychopathic criminals that I've heard about in class. Particularly that time I watched an interview with the Ice Man, Richard Kuklinski (Scared the crap out of me, he was so nonchalant about the hundred-plus murders that he confessed to). Scary how these kinds of people actually exist.

New post tomorrow! So happy to be back on track haha :)

- Justin

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