In response to Jac’s question posted in her book blog, yes, I’ve read something amazing this year. (Shame to me if I haven’t!). Mostly blogs and articles and short stories that make their way through my RSS reader but if answers to this question are limited to books, I’d say it’d be A Clockwork Orange.
A Clockwork Orange gained notoriety through its movie. Well, at least that’s how it gained notoriety for me. Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation is a cult favorite and I’ve seen it several times many and many years ago but I wasn’t particularly into it. Not that it was bad; quite the contrary even. It was fancy and detailed and ridiculously creative and fresh but meh. It just wasn’t my type. The book on the other hand…
I read the Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange for Read Hard!, an online book club I’ve been following over at Tumblr. The theme chosen for that month was dystopian fiction and A Clockwork Orange bested other classics such as Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World and a couple more books I can’t remember right now.
Starting the book was slow and staggering. If you must already know, Anthony Burgess employs an experiment in language for the book. A “teenage slang of the not-too-distant future” called Nadsat which to me, is a singular English bastardization of the Russian language. It was annoying at first but once you get used to it, you’ll find that it makes everything more interesting. I don’t know if it’s appropriate to refer to Nadsat as a futuristic local color (any literature majors here?), but that’s how I’d like to see because that’s how I felt it to be while reading the book. Nadsat transports you to a whole new frikkin’ world that is unfamiliar and quite frankly, a bit scary too.
Reading the book didn’t make me feel like I just discovered a gem I’d go crazy for for the rest of my life. It wasn’t like Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, or Douglas Adams’ HGTTG. It wasn’t even like Planetary or Y: The Last Man. It was just…. a book, a good one, but still just a book nonetheless. I felt like nothing has changed, and I went on to finish another book, the same way I’ve been doing for the most part of my life. The only milestone I felt was finally reading that classic.
But then, a most curious thing happened. I still quote “Oh it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh” all the freaking time. I use Nadsat, love moloko on my coffee, still fancy letting my glazzies viddy real horrorshow novels of vicious bitvas, ultra-violence, a parade of keeshkas and a flood of kroovy among many other veshches.
After reading the book and re-watching the movie, I started listening to classical music and learned to appreciate the rise and fall of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The book’s most beautifully crafted lines were of the anti-hero’s description of music. I’ve rediscovered interests that I’ve been so quick to dismiss before. I also realized that while I will forever hate fearsomely strange and disgusting people, I should give them time to grow up. If you don’t get why that’s so, read the book and stick with it.
Looking back, everything about the book changed me in a major way, without me even knowing. It’s a subtle kind of mindfuck really, kind of like an alien parasite that is gnawing at your brain without you feeling it, until BOOM! You realize how deep it’s been in you and you in it. I think this is what’s referred to (scientifically) as the Sleeper Effect. Regardless of what it’s called though, I have it for A Clockwork Orange, and I don’t mind.