Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Monday I was overtaken by a major book-buying binge. I think watching the On the Road movie trailer [hitting theaters in December] was the catalyst. After viewing the clip, I looked into the Jack Kerouac novel and my shock that I, a former Lit major at one of the country’s most writing-centric universities, had not yet cracked the binding on such an American classic that, according to the back cover, has “changed anyone who has ever picked it up” grew at an alarmingly panicked pace.

I had to remedy the situation immediately.

I rushed to Barnes & Noble in the middle of the workday to snag the paperback and, before departing, had bought four more. One was the result of a BOGO promo, but the other three were classics I couldn’t let elude me one second longer: two Fitzgeralds and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. My professors would be proud.

Before the abovementioned bender, I had just started reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower [available at Amazon]. In my hunger to start the next in my newly-acquired lineup, I finished the quick and engrossing 200-pager that night.

The book’s theme is participation versus passivity in the form of letters written throughout Charlie’s freshman year of high school. I won't write a review, but certain fragments from the candid correspondence stayed with me longer than the 24 hours it took to ingest.

I’ve reprinted them below – musings we should all remember, through adolescence and beyond, as we attempt to recollect that feeling of being infinite: 

“When I was driving home, I just thought about the word ‘special.’ And I thought the last person who said that about me was my aunt Helen. I was very grateful to have heard it again. Because I guess we all forget sometimes.”

“I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people. Maybe that is what makes people ‘participate.’”

“I feel great! I really mean it. I have to remember this for the next time I’m having a terrible week. Have you ever done that? You feel really bad, and then it goes away, and you don’t know why, but I try to remind myself when I feel great like this that there will be another terrible week coming someday, so I should store up as many great details as I can, so during the next terrible week, I can remember those details and believe that I’ll feel great again.”

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