Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Cider House Rules by John Irving

The Cider House Rules is an amazing, thought provoking book. I had complained that I felt as if I was in a modern museum gazing at carefully contructed works that nonetheless left me cold. Then somewhere around three hundred pages into the novel, I sat down in front of a Rothko and let my eyes focus on its red-orangeness and allowed myself to move into its bands of color and see its complexities and feel myself expand. In other words, I got into it. The characters, the ideas emerged. My head is spinning with Irving's presentation of the modern hero, the role of fiction, the ideal versus the real world and where we fall as citizens.

I tried to look up commentary on the novel but have found very little that I can access. I want someone to read this novel so that I can hash out its meanings! I would definitely recommend this book for my book club. It has a rich plot and sympathetic characters. Most of all it has controversial ideas about what we owe to society, in particular to children and fallen soldiers. I get Homer Wells; he is my hero. The passage about the Ferris Wheel is riveting. Did I mention it is set in Maine and concerns orphans, abortions, apple trees, love in unexpected equations and fighter pilots?

Some quotable quotes and memorable language:

"Sometimes when we are labeled, when we are branded, our brand becomes a calling."

"The coastal winds gave the brittle orchard such a shaking that the clashing trees resembled frozen soldiers in all postures of saber-rattling."

"Grown-ups don't look for signs in the familiar. . . but an orphan is always looking for signs."

"But who seeks the truth from unlikable sources?"

"Always be suspicious of easy work"

"Reality for orphans is often outdistanced by their ideals; if Homer wanted Candy, her wanted her ideally."

"Don't think so badly of compromise; we don't always get to choose the ways we can be of use."

"What is hardest to accept about the passage of time is that the people who once mattered the most to us are wrapped up in parenthesis."

"Rules, he guessed, never asked; rules told."

"How we love to love things for other people; how we love to have other people love things through our eyes."

"his happiness was not the point, or that it wasn't as important as his usefullness."

3 comments:

Tara said...

Janet-
Love the blog. I'm revisiting ITW! I long for your adventurous life...woe is me :) I've never read Cider House Rules, but alas, I have seen the movie--it's good. I didn't know it was a novel until after I saw the film. I hate that. I prefer to read first. Am working my way through The Master Butcher's Singing Club. Have finished: the new Harry Potter (dun, dun, DUN...) The Things they Carried, The Problem of Pain and Speak (young adult--great to use for class probably--check it out if you get a chance). I may have some conflict for book club, but I'm hoping to be able to work around it. Of course of all the nights of the week, Bethel chooses Wednesday nights for the course I need to take this fall. We'll see what I can work out though--I meet with the professor next week. This response is going to jump around, sorry... Love the quotes you pulled from CHR. Specially: "What is hardest to accept about the passage of time is that the people who once mattered the most to us are wrapped up in parenthesis." Hmmm, I think you know why I find this one intriguing or meaningful or whatever. "How we love to love things for other people; how we love to have other people love things through our eyes." Again, a deep sigh. Finally, "Sometimes when we are labeled, when we are branded, our brand becomes a calling." Double sigh.
Today it's rather 'dog meleg volt' here as well. Not quite as bad as a week or so ago, but close.
To wrap up my drivel, miss seeing you, would love to do the Farmer's Market thing when you return--the only obstacle would be the 8 week wedding is the weekend of Aug. 27. We could do it that first weekend you're back if you wanted to--if it's not too much? Should we ask Caelea and Sarah?? Just a thought.
Hope you are all doing well and I look forward to reading more bloggage and for your brief return before Boston.
(OH! ordered 'Hailstones and Halibut bones', 'Come on Rain!' 'An Angel for Solomon Singer' and 'The Mysteries of Harris Burdick' from Overstock.com today... I adore books.)

Tara said...

PS. I bookmarked you... :)

susi said...

never seen the film, but I read the book. It's awesome. I was really surprised to find things that I really believed in in that book.