Come On, Get Happy

26 Oct

Sometimes I just know a book is going to make me cry. I think for many people this is true with movies–who didn’t spend 75% of Million Dollar Baby trying to stifle sobs in a crowded theater? But I have equally strong, if not sometimes stronger, reactions to writing. Maybe it’s because I’m free to visualize, maybe it’s because reading one book written by one person makes you feel so much closer to whatever emotion they were feeling, or trying to convey; there’s no army of screenwriters and props people and best boy grips making it difficult to suspend disbelief. Either way, there have been a number of books in my lifetime that have reduced me to tears: Dean Koontz’s Watchers, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. Actually, everything by Alice Sebold. I’ve thrown books across the room because of how much they’ve upset me. I’ve skulked around the apartment for hours. I’ve questioned the direction and value of my life. I’ve essentially felt all the emotions of a 13-year-old Panic! At the Disco fan, just from reading. Put that in your marketing, Scholastic.

So considering Catch-22 was a comedy, albeit a dark one, I thought maybe this week I’d pick something on the other end of the spectrum. A few years ago, my mom gave me Beautiful Boy, a memoir written by a father about his son’s addiction to crystal meth. I put it on the shelf. You see, when one is in college, experimenting with all manner of friends, substances and …study techniques, naturally, a book about a 20-something’s descent into addiction just doesn’t fit the bill. I didn’t want to read a particularly grueling chapter about young Nic’s first transition from marijuana to cocaine and then try to go out partying; I didn’t want to take a shot of tequila and spend the subsequent four hours crying in the bathroom of a bar and questioning all of my life decisions. The book had to wait. Until this week.

Now, I’m only 25, so there’s still a distinct possibility I could read this and find myself crying on the floor of a bathroom this weekend. Worse, this Sunday is Halloween, which means I’d be crying on the floor of a bar bathroom while dressed as Buzz Lightyear. Hilarious? Yes; but after losing my Blackberry two Halloweens ago and riding the subway back and forth for five hours at 4 a.m. dressed as Uncle Sam …well I think I’d like to keep that on record as my epitome of All Hallows’ Eve shame. Just to be safe though, no tequila.

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