Saturday, June 12, 2010

An American Tragedy

I had never read Theodore Dreiser's book "An American Tragedy." I don't even remember it on any reading lists from high school. I'm not sure why. It's a pity.

The book is a classic.

With his narrative, Dreiser's able to paint his characters in such a way as they leap off the page. I felt sympathetic toward each of the characters -- even Clyde -- I didn't want him to get away with what he'd done, but I still felt for him.

Dreiser, in some ways, reminds me of Dostoevsky, particularly "Crime and Punishment." Both books are powerful psychological dramas -- with the element of redemption-through-religion -- playing a role. Although in "An American Tragedy" Clyde is unable to make the leap to faith.

By the last few lines of the book, you realize Dreiser has come full-circle.

Tumble Weeds

You find this plant along the beach. The seeds are in the center of these spoke-like needles. When they turn brown, they break away from the main plant and roll across the beach and start life anew. They almost perform a dance as the wind moves them first one way and then another. This plant was photographed east of Dili at a place nicknamed "dollar beach." Locals, apparently, used to charge a buck to expats who wanted to use this beach. Today, it's free.