I can’t engage with reality anymore
Not sure why. And by reality I don’t mean actual reality. The Real world. The one that fills your nostrils with fridged air. The one that cuts your skin and makes the blood flow out. The kind where light fills the sky and your heart quickens as you make an exposure, write something down or just form a memory.That is just fine. I mean the kind on TV.
I just finished reading City of Thieves by David Benioff and thought it was a really great book. It’s about a real life story that took place in Russia during the Siege of Leningrad. (New York Times Book Review of City of Thieves.)
From 1941 to 1943 the Germans Isolated Leningrad bombarding it, killing more than one million Russian army soldiers and one million civilians. It was brutal. There were shortages of materials and supplies. Citizens of Leningrad had to survive not only privation, but extreme weather and temperatures which got as low as -30 degrees. There was cannibalism, teenage snipers and apartment bombings in the middle of the night. This shit really happened.
The story is not about all that. The main Characer, Lev, is caught 1) looting a fallen Germain soldier of his knife and 2) doing that looting after curfew. That’s two offences for which his own army would kill him. He is taken to the The Crosses, a notorious prison, where he assumes he’ll be shot and heaped in a pile of deserters and looters. In the cell that night he meets Kolya, a soldier arrested for desertion.
In the morning they are taken to see the Colonel. Who offers them a reprieve on one condition, that they supply him with 1 dozen eggs before the wedding of his daughter the next week. This presents problems, as there are no eggs in Leningrad, as far as they know as all the egg laying chickens have long since been eaten for their meat.
But what can they do? They head out with a small wad of cash in search of the eggs. I don’t want to spoil the story so I won’t say any more about what happens. I will say that it is a very well written book, is short 258 pages, and is broken up into small chapters and sub chapters that you can easily blow through in a few minutes making it easy to read this book in the short time between when you get into bed and fall asleep.
The characters are well developed, full of surprises, realistic, and magnetic. You become attached to them and to their mission and their survival becomes important to you. The main character, Lev, is timid, quiet, inexperienced and young. Kolya is a bold carousing, literary know-it-all who is very unlikeable at first, but you come to understand him and like him a lot. Like isn’t right. You come to understand his value on multiple levels. Which is something that is important in literature and reality as well. Being able to get past the things that are off-putting or distracting to a person’s true value can have it’s rewards.
Reality again. What was my point? Reality is the every day. It’s going to work, dealing with douchey people on the street, interpersonal bullshit, competition. There’s is nothing remarkable about it no matter the camera angle. When you cross a boundary into a story, it’s not reality anymore. When you have to say, “True Story,” it gets even farther from reality, because the story is being told for a different reason, a different truth. When that true story is slightly implausible, When you have to assure your reader, “these events really happened” it becomes an adventure. And that’s something worth reading.