Me, I’m a bit more troubled. As I’m writing this, I see the first snowflakes coming down outside through my office window. Snow, though, is not what’s troubling me.
Yesterday, I started reading Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, her thoroughly gripping novel that was published last year. About an hour ago, I reached an incident in the book (at page 188) that made me as angry as I’ve been in recent years. For those who haven’t read the novel, I’ll refrain from going into specifics… but it was horrifyingly riveting. Shocking, yet believable. And forceful enough that, immediately upon reading the scene, I put down the book in anger.
I had been reading the book in bed, mostly because the kids, having been let out of school early, are using every other room of the house as a glorified rumpus room. The bed was quiet, peaceful, but then I came upon this troubling passage.
Have you heard the phrase, “hopping mad”? Until an hour ago, I thought it nothing more than a hyperbolic cliché. Yet it described my state of mind perfectly. Putting down the book, I hopped out of bed. Angry. I believe in procedural justice. Meaning that I’m no friend of the kind of vigilante mob I wanted to incite for the purpose of tracking down and snuffing out, in the most cruelest way, the book’s offending character. Seriously. Visions of carnage, of white-hot iron pokers stabbing into flesh poured through my mind.
Which is silly, isn’t it? The book’s incident takes place in 1926. And is purely fictional. Meaning that to invoke retribution, I’d have to burrow into times and imaginations that, frankly, shouldn’t be breached. At least not by the sane.
But that’s how angry I was.
And actually, much of that anger remains.
In the hour or so since I’ve read that passage, I’ve picked up the book a couple more times. On each occasion, I managed to read but a couple more pages before anger once again ignited and destroyed my powers of concentration, of rational thought.
No doubt, I’ll pick the book up later today and read through the rest of the novel. For the next couple of hours though, the book will remain on my shelf. I’ve got snow to look forward to, sledding ventures to supervise. Plus there’s the big Arsenal-Man U game to watch. God, I hope Arsenal plays better than they did over the weekend, when Liverpool thoroughly embarrassed them.