From the very start all four of these readings were interesting but I kept my favorites. I found each one of them to be extremely intriguing even though all of them were sad. I believe the overall theme that connected them all was some form of grieving which manifested itself within the readings in different ways. Each step of grief including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance became a part of the characters within the text. I found it very easy to visualize the characters and their unique circumstances in my mind fairly easily. Above all, I did have my favorites.
My absolute favorite one was Strayed because I really found the main character, the wife to be highly complex. Upon the loss of her mother it would seem she immediately skipped a few chapters in the book of grieving and moved right into a bargaining/depression mode. She had a husband who would do anything for her, even get on his knees (haha) if only to make her feel better. Unfortunately while she still thought of her husband the void created by her mother’s death was still not filled, for she was compelled by the insatiable need to lust for others. This however was interesting in that of the countless men none of which could fully sate her. In her mind she thought of her loving husband as she probably looked past the faces of the men and envisioned his face upon the ceiling. Talk about a woman with some acceptance issues. For as appalling as her behavior was I can relate and understand how one could come to use sex as a tool for trying to accept loss. It however is transitory and certainly not a permanent means of solving any problem in the least aside from a brief period of arousal. In actuality through the reading I began to think of why a woman would choose this particular mode of expression to cope with her loss and then I believe I came to a realization. Although she had her more than willing husband she had lost her mother. A mother I believe who held some deeply hidden sexual connotation in the wife’s mind, even at the very slightest subconsciously. This problem of her grieving of course didn’t end happily because she never moved on to accepting the fact that her mother had left and was not coming back, even if she could imagine her in the thralls of all consuming pleasure.
The second story I found to be highly interesting was Beard’s “The Fourth State of Matter”. This story above all the rest was the most crafty and intellectually enriching text of the four. Perhaps if you summed up each of the four readings as a state of matter, the fourth as stated in the text would be like saving the best for last. The interrelationship between the characters was exceptionally fascinating in its complexity. We have the main character that has broken up with her insecure husband who still incessantly calls her for his own odd assurance, followed by the dog. The dog I found to be a physical representation of her lifeline. Something she clings to even while everything in her life just seems to pee on her, much like the poor pathetic dog with its health problems and its probable form of Cushing’s disease. We then have the squirrels who wreak havoc upon her upstairs bedroom which seems to be a place she never visits due to the animals. Interestingly enough her life seems to be full of pathetic scared animals, perhaps the upstairs bedroom is a representation of her life, which she is afraid to stumble into. Finally we have her place of work, the nice co-worker Chris and the unassuming suicidal Gang Lu who seem the represent the two extreme sides of her life’s equilibrium; the calm vs. the chaotic. I simply loved how each character has their own unique purpose in unveiling a fuller depiction of this woman’s life. Sadly Gang Lu (name should be changed to Gung Ho for comic effect) won and shot everyone she worked with, leading me to believe that her life will never have a happy ending because her life gave way to the chaos. This can also be understood by her missing the squirrels that did nothing but destroy everything. Again, this was a highly amusing text that in actuality was the most smartly written text of the four.
The other two I am afraid I didn’t enjoy nearly as much as the others, which leaves me with nothing very positive to say about either of them. Although they both coped with forms of loss I was unimpressed by how they represented grief. Both Richards and Sedaris are good writers and that is evident through these texts but it was too easy. Their representations were bland, how many times do we read of cancer striping away a loved one. I’m tired of cancer; I need something more unique to captivate my attention. In terms of Sedaris I felt as though I could have used a good stiff drink upon reading, just to add in that pun. As for Richards, yes it is terrible that people get older and mostly all elders begin to lose their marbles, but again this is the norm. His imagery was very good but I wanted to stay out of the dream world.
All and all these various short works were entertaining yet some were better than others. Grief is something that is unique in that we all experience it as a natural part of life, yet each and every one of us does so completely differently. I am sure my own personal grief cannot be mirrored by another in exactly the same manifesting doppelganger because I am unique, just as everyone else is. Which leads me to believe that although we as a human race all share grief, none of us are really the same.