Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Re-visiting The Ginger Man

During the fall semester of my junior year at the University of Alabama, I took a course entitled something like "The Novel Since 1950." We called it "The Dirty Books Class." Trust me. With Portnoy's Complaint and others of its ilk on the reading list, all manner of student was trying to get into this class. But it was limited to 30 students, and I was one of the lucky ones. (It was on the elective list for my major in American Studies - hey, what could I do?)

The first book assigned was J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man. Hm. I did read it. I know I did, because I was a good little girl who read all (well, almost all) of her assignments. But I gotta tell ya'. It went right over my little 20-year-old head. I'd never read anything like it. It was a scorcher! Whoo-eee! Didn't know what to think of the anti-hero Sebastian Dangerfield or Donleavy's writing style or of the plot (?) line. In short, I completely missed the point. I was too young and too life-inexperienced to have the slightest clue about it.

So when I saw The Ginger Man amongst the other thrift sale books on Saturday, I grabbed it. To be honest, the book stuck with me all these years, even though I was clueless about it when I read it the first time. I'd often thought of giving it another go. What a golden opportunity - for a paltry 50 cents!

I started it last night, and the language completely drew me in. Yep, I'm old enough to read it now. This should be fun!

Any books you've revisited because you missed the point the first time round?

6 comments:

Winston said...

"Any books you've revisited because you missed the point the first time round?"

Most of them...

Elsie said...

Having started college as an education major, I took several kid's lit classes. Pretty straight forward, not much mystery there, unless you buy into the "hidden meanings" of Maurice Sendak's work (sometimes a duck is just a duck), etc. I suppose having read Jane Eyre a couple of times as I've gotten older helped me understand it better. What I never understand is art. I never see what everyone else does. You mentioned the Pollack exhibit. It's not that I don't like looking at his "masterpieces," it's just that when I see a blob of paint, I see a blob of paint. Now if you could help me with that, I'd owe you big time.

MaryB said...

Ya, Winston. But I don't know if I want to revisit Moby Dick or Treasure Island. Maybe The Illiad/The Odyssey? Or not. Neither were offered in my "dirty books class."

Elsie- yes, sometimes a duck is just a duck. And I don't really cotton on to books with a lot of hidden meaning. If it doesn't bubble to the surface, I'm not going down in the muck for it!

re: art - well, you've given me an idea for another post! (And sometimes a blob is just a blob.)

Clare said...

I have read Pride and Prejudice about twice now, but during my travels this summer, I listened to a recording of it (unabridged). I would have said beforehand that I knew what happened (after all, I've read it twice, seen the BBC adaptation and now the film), but I had never realised how funny it is! When I read I tend to skim (bad, bad habit), and so have obviously missed the nuances which came out in the recording, some of which made me chuckle out loud.

And on another note: I'm living with a guy doing an MA in Fine Art...I really don't understand what his work is about, but I nod and smile anyway!

laura jane gallagher said...

Dear MaryB,
Doing a little research on Donleavy's literary career - would you mind telling me what year it was that you took this class and had his book assigned? I'd be very grateful!
Many thanks
Laura Gallagher

MaryB said...

Laura Jane - I took the class and read the book for the first time fall semester of 1971. Wow. 41 years ago.