Tuesday, October 23, 2012

5 Books Update: The Bell Jar

You know what I have realised about these 5 Books Updates?  They are much harder to write than I expected.  Granted I’ve only done two of these so far but I find that putting my thoughts about a book into words a little strange.  So if I say something a bit uninformed or silly, bear with me.  I think I might have to rethink this process for next year’s 5 Books!

Moving along, I wish I had read The Bell Jar when I was younger.  Starting varsity maybe or finishing school.  Like Esther, I often felt like I was trapped under a bell jar "stewing in my own sour air".  So I guess you can say that is what I enjoyed about the book; the fact that I can see my younger and slightly odd self in it.  Although, truth be told, I was mostly just over-dramatic.  Anyway, the part of the book that I most identified with was the part about the fig tree:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.  From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.  One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.  I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.  I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
  ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Chapter 7

This is something that I can definitely relate to today.  Not so much in other areas of my life but when it comes to writing and what I do for a living, I still worry about focusing on one particular option and how that might limit something else.  I enjoy my job but there is part of me that is still not 100% committed because I worry that if I spend too much of my time as a technical writer that I will get stuck and never get a chance to be more creative.  Maybe it’s a silly fear but its very real, especially now in the last year of my twenties when I should technically have this stuff figured out! Ha!

In the end, I actually feel like I rushed my reading of The Bell Jar and missed out on a whole lot.  I definitely need to read it again, maybe with more attention.  One thing I can say is that reading The Bell Jar has made me really want to get a better acquainted with Sylvia Plath's work.  I have read a few of her poems at school, at varsity and just for the pleasure of it but there is a whole unexplored world of writing that I feel like I should know.  Anybody have any recommendations on where to start?  

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