Life Begins at Incorporation by Matt Bors
I got this book through a Kickstarter, which is where I’ve been finding a lot of my entertainment ephemera lately. I was taken by the first comic you see in the sales-spiel, regarding non-white babies. Why? I don’t know. Anyway, I bought into the hype.
(Back when I worked in the York County Library reshelving books, I was infatuated with the yearly collections of political cartoons I found. Most of them I didn’t really understand, because I didn’t really follow the news, but something about the attempt to capture an entire argument in only a few panels really struck me. I’m an easy sell for, I think, for strong opinions under a wedding veil of humor. And, no, don’t ask me who’s getting married.)
The book is about half cartoons and half essays, each essay framing one of Bors’ main concerns in the world today and thereby neatly dividing the book. Also, the essays are funny. Hell, I’d read just a book of his essays, minus the cartoons. Granted, I’d also read a book of his cartoons, minus the essays. So a win? Yes.
I don’t always agree with his opinions, but it doesn’t matter (and I don’t really want to read someone parroting my own thoughts) because he’s honest, cutting, unbending, and funny. Especially that last part.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Of course, you already know that last part. The Burgess part.
(By the way, did you know that Anthony Burgess wrote a novel called The End of the World News? Did you know that it is awesome and you should read it right away? Yes. Well, then… good. Good for you, you know-it-all.)
I have seen the movie version, and it was harrowing. Reading the book is a little more harrowing, because you are in Alex’s mind all the time, and you never escape the fact that he’s fifteen and his droogie friends are only a year or so older (a fact that’s easy to escape with Malcolm McDowell as the lead, clearly old enough to be vicious in a way that’s harder to forgive in a child/teenager).
It took me a long time to get to the book, though not because I didn’t like Burgess (see above) and not because I wasn’t interested. Hell, the creation of a new language was enough to intrigue me (though I didn’t find it as difficult to slip into the new vocabulary as I expected). I think it was that the book was so talked about, so pedestaled, that I was afraid. Afraid of what? I don’t know.
O my brothers, I don’t know, because the book is glorious. Violent as it is, as pessimistic as it is (and despite what Burgess may tell you in the introduction, the last chapter that was excised in the original American version does not make everything sunshine and roses), the book is seductive, and beautiful, and it is the language that makes it so.
Of course, I’m a poet by training, so maybe that’s to blame. YMMV. But probably not.