Flowers for Algernon
At the suggestion of my subconsious, and in response to a recently-unburied memory of having read the story - prodded by Simon's .sig and some other input, i just finished (and started) reading Flowers for Algernon. Whoah. What a heartbreaking book. I remember the story pretty well, but i don't remember it having that kind of an impact on me when i last read it - either the story didn't pack the same 'punch', or perhaps it was that i wasn't mature enough at the time to really appreciate the horror of what happened to Charlie. Either way, it was pretty harsh. I think that pretty much anyone who can empathize with another human - and i'm not usually the type, as most people know - will feel hard pressed not to tear up at the end of that novel.
Given that i'm already in a harsh mood, maybe yesterday wasn't the best day to pick the book up :)
At any rate, i did. Read it beginning to end in about two hours - pretty much non-stop, with a small break to go swimming (Which is going well, thank you). For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, well, i don't want to give it away. Suffice to say that it's very sad, and it's very good. It'll make you think. I know it's making me think - even re-evaluate the way i look at retarded people. I don't know if it'll have any permanent effect on my thinking on the subject, but i do feel that i have a slightly different outlook. It's hard to read the last fourteen or so pages of Flowers and not come away feeling like you've been shown a dirty side of yourself.
Here's something that interested me, though. I read this today, and coincidentally, there was a discussion on Slashdot about "What makes great Science Fiction?". And, when i checked it out, there was over 1000 postings, and not one mention of this story. I'm peripherally aware that not many people think of it as a Science Fiction story - there's no lasers, no aliens - at least not visible ones - and little or no high technology. But it did shock me that the folks over at /. didn't even bring it up once - and usually there's always at least one art-wanker who insists on proving that his definitions of a term are so much more advanced that he *has* to bring up an obscure, seldom-recognized title. Nope. Not even one.
I was dismayed.
But, no matter. At least the novel got read- which, if it had been clothed in the trappings of "real" scifi, it might not have. And that'd have been a shame.Tweet