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Reading Wednesday

Les Mis Progress:

788 / 788 (100.00%)

That's right! I finished! Jean Valjean, being slowly eased out of Cosette's life by both Marius and his own guilt, falls into a deep and ultimately fatal depression. Since this is not, say, Dostoevsky, and Victor Hugo believes in God and grace and all that, Cosette and Marius eventually sort out that Valjean, despite being a convict who broke his ban a bazillion years ago, is not just a pretty decent guy, he's the guy who saved Marius' life back at the barricades. This makes all the difference and they rush to his side, but it's too late. But that's OK, Valjean dies happy and that's all that really counts, right? Miserable no more, ha ha.

Nobody ever quite sorts out Cosette's parentage or makes the connection with the Thernardiers, though. Valjean tells her the name of her mother on his deathbed, but that's it. Also, she inherits the Bishop's candlesticks. (Remember the Bishop?)

The best part of this denouement is where Hugo begs us to not think bad thoughts about Marius and Cosette and their abandonment of Valjean. He does this by first removing any shred of agency from Cosette, and then explaining that Marius was young and what are you going to do? You're going to be a decent man to your wife's nominal father, that's what. You were a fucking revolutionary, shooting at soldiers, and you have the gall to kick him out because he broke the law once upon a time by stealing bread and then trying to escape the life of hard labor he was sentenced to for it? Marius, you're a tool.

After I finished Les Miserables I read Pregnant Butch by A.K. Summers, a graphic novel that's exactly summed up by its title. The introductory note is especially interesting as Summers was pregnant in 2003, but the book was published in 2013, and a lot has changed...except for the parts that haven't. I think Summers is more conscious of the difference than the reader, frankly.

Now I am taking a break from fiction and reading Bear's most recent book of essays, Blood, Marriage, Wine and Glitter. I guess there's kind of a theme here, but it was unintentional. I wanted some essays rather than a book-length text, but I wasn't up to Hilton Als' White Girls yet and I couldn't find Kiese Laymon's book.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as I figure out how to handle all this newfound freedom in choosing reading material!


Cheers for getting all the way there!
Kiese Laymon's essays are really fantastic. He also includes some writing from an aunt who is a minister, and she is equally awesome.
Yay! Congrats!