So I’m reading The Stranger by Albert Camus as my non-school-related before-bed reading.  I admit this is an odd choice, but it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a very long time.  So when it was mentioned on npr the other day I relocated it to my nightstand. And anyway, The Stranger is one of those books that made me feel actively guilty because I hadn’t read it.  When I saw it on my bookshelf, I would feel very uncultured.  (Other books in this category include Moby-Dick and A Passage to India.  The latter is also on my nightstand, waiting its turn.)

This book is devastatingly depressing.  Which, really, I anticipated.  The blurb on the back quotes Camus, who notes that the book explores "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd."  Something described with both "nakedness" and "absurd" is rarely uplifting.

While most people — well, except Ryan, who told me he thinks the book is funny — would agree that The Stranger is depressing, I think I find it particularly so because its sadness often seems to take the form of vulnerable elderly people.  And I really can’t stand to even think about vulnerable elderly people.  Or their verbally abused dogs plagued with mange.  Or their sad, shuffling, marches at the end of a line of mourners at a funeral — at the end because they can’t keep up with the rest.  And I will leave it at that, in case you want to drift off to sleep to the slow drip of paralyzing sadness that is The Stranger.

I am almost done.  Then my duty to The Stranger will be fulfilled.

In other, unrelated news, I was recently reminded of one of the greatest computer games of all time.  Does anyone else remember Dinopark Tycoon?  How much did I love Dinopark Tycoon?  I loved the Dino Store, with its rickety cart speeding along a pixel track to catch a dinosaur egg.  I loved the moment when your dino-fences failed and your specimens escaped.  I loved how, when you logged off and were punted back into DOS, a friendly message would appear at the top of your screen: "Hasta la dino, baby!"  You can get the game online for free, but it’s DOS-based and a little annoying to run on a PC with Windows XP.  I went through the trouble to download DOSbox, which makes such old games compatible with my machine, but despite my best efforts and a few FAQ sites I couldn’t make the program run at quite the right speed.  It’s all for the best, really.  If Dinopark Tycoon worked in allits glory on my laptop, my dissertation progress would grind to a halt.  I would have to explain to potential employers that no, I no longer anticipate my degree in May 2009, because I spent my evenings buying up prime marsh real estate for my ankylosaurus.  So while some computer-savvy readers of this blog may know how to fix this problem — only Nick, probably (hi, Nick!) — I don’t want to know.

Time for bed.  I look forward to waking up in the middle of the night freezing cold because the windows are open and Houston is getting a cold front.  A cold front!  Huzzah!  Praise sweet baby Jesus!

Hasta la dino.


4 thoughts on “

  1. Ah Dinopark – I remember that game – btw – dosbox is a neat little program – though it does take some level of computer nerdiness to make it work. It’s easier on a PC than on a mac based on the default directory structure (to find the folder you want to mount once you open dosbox), though both appear to work. Let me know if you want a distraction 🙂

    On literature… I feel I should now read The Stranger that you referenced. I’m starting to finally have the desire to read that general category of books known as ‘classics’ again – years of rather disappointing English classes beat that interest out of me for a while, but in addition to the incredibly nerdy books I’ve been reading lately I’ve started to introduce some actual literature into the mix. And on prodding from my grandparents in the last year I also read Rohinton Mistry’s “A Fine Balance” which is probably the most thoroughly depressing book I’ve experienced. So I feel prepared for the big leagues, so to speak.

    • I was very impressed with myself for figuring out how to mount the game on DOSbox. This is a great victory for someone like me!

      And I’m glad you’re returning to literature after some bad English class experiences. I really like Rohinton Mistry, actually. Although I read Swimming Lessons instead of A Fine Balance.

      I’m not sure what your tastes are… Camus is both depressing and sparse, although not as sparse as Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, the only other “absurd universe” text I’ve read lately. Being a nineteenth-century lit person, I prefer a little more, well, everything. More pages. More words. More characters. More plot.

      In any case, I love recommending books! So if you want some suggestions, let me know.

    • Yes. We have had discussions about our similar distaste for literature involving vulnerable old people.

      It was great that you came to Kevin’s practice talk tonight! And I’m glad you asked the school examiner question. It had crossed my mind, as well.

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