Reading Away the Hours

I just finished Michael Cunningham’s The Hours and while it was a fantastic read – really, truly superb – I can’t help but wonder if a lot of its meaning is lost on me since I haven’t read Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, around which most of this story centers. I’m surely not the first to be impressed by how Cunningham weaved the stories of these three women around each other, reflected by a single piece of fiction.

mcunningham1So now I’m going to go back and read Mrs. Dalloway. I kind of feel like it’s my duty to do so at this point, if just to get a glimpse as to why the lives of these women are so tragic. Hopefully I’ll get something else out of it.

As far as The Hours is concerned, however, I was surprised to see Cunningham working the effects of AIDS into the narrative. It seemed kind of out-of-place amidst the turmoil of the typical housewife. Though it was nice to see Clarissa in a context outside of her day-to-day routine (which, interestingly enough, is something we never see). I don’t know what I’m getting at…it was just something worth mentioning.

I’m taking two quotes from the book, though, which will seem distinctly odd out of context. Regardless, I’ve already written a poem based on the line “a bee thumps heavily, insistently, against a windowpane.” And I’ve got to do something with “Where do they come from, these impeccable beauties who work as salesclerks? For what do they hope?” if only because it reminds me of this one cashier at the Newbury H&M in Boston. He was pretty much Bruce Weber’s dream. I’d think.

See, good literature has contemporary implications!

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