Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Comfort and joy in the off-season
Look, I can't tell you why I decided to read A Christmas Carol for the first time in the middle of July, but that's what happened. Life is weird. And yeah, the book loses something when you're sweating through a monsoonal flow and being a little bit jealous of people who are experiencing cold weather, but other than that it's pretty good.
I mean, yeah, it has all the flaws that you'd expect out of Dickens - there are no interesting female characters who aren't evil, it's sappy as all get-out and I couldn't even manage a tiny tear for Tiny Tim (though Bob Cratchit's mourning for Tiny Tim is moving, even to a cynic like me). We get it, Chuck, poverty sucks balls and the rich are slowly marching toward hell. But I can only bitch "we get it and I'm tired of this message" because Dickens was hugely instrumental in communicating messages about child abuse and labor laws and debtor's prisons. So I guess I'm sometimes a bit sick of Dickens because we owe Dickens for giving a voice to some of the major changes that our society has seen. It's old news to me because Dickens was the one making the news.
But, for all that, it's not as monolithic as a lot of Dickens is. The book is only about 70 pages and can easily be read in an hour or two. Reading it aloud might take a bit more time but also might be a fun Christmas activity for Christmas-celebrating folks. As for me, I'm a bit of a Grinch. Hell, maybe I was able to enjoy this book more for not being caught up in the endless jangling of Christmas carols and the crowds of people spending too much money on trinkets and the stress of dealing with crowds of people and unpleasant gatherings. I like the message of generosity and kindness and redemption, I'm just not so wrapped up in the Christmassy aspect of the thing. Though if you are, that's cool too. You'll probably like the book. And it's relatively inoffensive regardless.
Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. Simon & Schuster. New York: New York. 2007. (1843).