09 December, 2006

Envy by Sandra Brown

I started reading Sandra Brown's novel, Envy. I'm really getting into it. But more than that, it seems that ever since I started reading again (which was during my hospitalization in the Fall of 2005), I've been drawn to certain books, and have found that, at least for the type of books that I'm reading (fantasy, sci-fi, mystery thriller, suspense, etc.) they can be surprisingly insightful into the human psyche, as well as quite philosophical.

In any event, some of these books "speak" to me (if you're a reader, you'll know what I'm talking about). Envy is one such book. For instance, take the following passages (select portions quoted under Fair Use provisions of the US Copyright Act):
Not until recently had Daniel Matherly thought of himself as aged. He had refused to acknowledge his elderly status far past the reasonable time to do so. Unsolicited literature mailed to him by the AARP was discarded unopened, and he declined to take advantage of senior citizen discounts.
Lately, however, the reflection in his mirror was tough to dispute, and his joints made an even better argument that he was definitely a . . . graduating senior.
Today, as he sat behind his desk in his his home study, Daniel was amused by his own thoughts. If reflecting on one's life wasn't proof of advancing age, what was? His preoccupation with his degenerating body was a firm indication that it was degenerating. Who else but the very old dwelled on such things?
In addition to the very old, I would have to say that the disabled sometimes dwell on such things. At least, I can identify very much with the character of Daniel Matherly, a character of some 78 years of age. And I'm nothing close to that age (it's well beyond double my current age). This passage alone has me thinking about my very own physical disabilities, especially the joint pain. This is part of my depression -- I have ills, ailments, and the body of people who are much, much older than I, due mostly to the injuries that I sustained in my 2002 car accident.

The passage continues:
Young people didn't have the time. They didn't ponder death because they were too busy living. Getting an education. Pursuing their chosen profession. Entering or exiting marriages. Rearing children. They couldn't be bothered with thoughts of death. "Mortality" was just a word that they kept shelved to think about in the distant future. Occasionally they might glance at it and grow uneasy, but their attention was hastily diverted to matters relating to living, not dying.
People keep telling me that I'm young. I don't feel young, but this is what they say I am. So I'm inclined to believe it. But everything about young people described in the paragraph above, is the exact opposite of how I feel. I do have the time. I do ponder death. I'm not too busy living. I'm not getting an education, pursuing my chosen profession, entering or exiting marriage, rearing children, etc. Mortality is more than just a word to me. I escaped with my life on 9/11. (I was working in the towers for a law firm's document production department, somewhere in the 80th-floor region, until 7:30 that morning, and was asked to stay until 9:30; I declined and went home to sleep and, upon wakening, the world had changed.) A few months later, I escaped with my life from the car accident. You know how they say that things come in threes? Well, I'm waiting for the third brush with death, and I'm not so certain that I'll escape with my life.

Sandra Brown really knows the psyche of a person suffering from depression. Take, for instance, this passage:
"Big time. You could have sent me a curt letter. Said no thanks. Said I stunk. Said I should give up writing and try stringing beads or basket weaving instead. I'd have probably bought a package of razor blades and locked myself in the bathroom."
"That isn't funny."
"You're right, it isn't."
"Besides, you're too egotistical for suicide."
How little she knew. There had been times during those darkest days when his soul had been as twisted as his legs and his emotions were as raw as the flesh that defied healing, when, had he been able to move, he would have taken the path of least resistance and ended it there.
But while he was in that pit of despair, he had been imbued with a will to live. Determination had been breathed into him by some omnipotent power or cosmic authority greater than his paltry human spirit.
I'm still searching for that will to live. I haven't found it yet. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. I can't predict the future. Right now, my depression has me at a level of complete apathy for my well-being. Honestly, I don't care one way or the other whether or not I go on. The way I feel these days, why would anyone want to go on in this fucked up world we live in?

In any event, I'm in love with this book. I'll stick around long enough to finish reading it. Maybe it will give me something else to think about.

Get it. Read it. Comment on it. Let me know what you think.