Wednesday, August 8, 2018

the last book I ever read (The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese, except three)

from The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese:

As the Voyeur’s correspondence and voiced comments kept harking on the familiar theme of his alienation and agony, it occurred to me that he might be approaching something close to a mental breakdown; and I sometimes imagined him in terms of the psychotic anchorman in the 1976 film Network, who implodes: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” I was reminded as well of certain literary works from long ago: John Cheever’s 1947 story in the New Yorker “The Enormous Radio,” in which a couple’s marriage slowly suffers as their newly purchased radio mysteriously allows them to overhear and become affected by the conversations and secrets of their neighboring tenants; and Nathanael West’s 1933 novel, Miss Lonelyhearts, in which an advice-dispensing newspaper columnist becomes an unstable, irascible alcoholic due to his frustrations and sensitivities vis-à-vis his readers’ empty lives and dubious solutions

Except, in the Voyeur’s case, I believed his criticisms of other people were expressed without any sense of irony or self-awareness. Here was a snooper in the attic claiming the moral high ground while scrutinizing and judging his guests harshly, and, at the same time, appropriating for himself the right to pry with detachment and immunity.

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