Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rereading Atlas Shrugged

Immediately after OCON09, Stephen and I started rereading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Together. At night. Out loud. To each other.

Despite the fact that our last read-aloud endeavor, The Three Musketeers, failed miserably in that we read almost the entire novel only to abandon it in the last 25 pages due to a serious lack of interest in the characters, plot resolution, or even having the satisfaction of finishing the book, I thought rereading AS together would be great summer project. I call it Project Atlas Snugged. (Hey, I heard that groan, which is why I didn’t use that for the title of this post.)

We both love the novel, wanted to reread it, and enjoy each other’s company. But, boy, was I wrong about it being a great summer project.

First, I think we read Dumas in the winter when the house was cold and invigorating rather than warm and sticky, making all that togetherness somehow a little less enjoyable. Secondly, unless Stephen’s voice becomes suddenly less somniferous to me, and mine to him, it’s clear that we’re going to have to take a new approach if we want to get it done this year, let alone this summer.

Perhaps we shouldn’t read it in the hammock after a big dinner, or when we’ve gotten only five hours of sleep the night before, which leaves Saturday and Sunday as the only possible evenings to read without danger of someone passing out immediately. Turning in at 5:30 every night and taking vacation days for the rest of the summer to read it are not viable options.

In order to alleviate some of the minor issues early on, we moved from the fine print mass market paperback to the lovely, larger Centennial Edition, and that helped a little. And now that the Agatha Christie series on PBS has run its course, our Sunday nights are free again, so I think we need to give it another strong push forward. The real problem is that even when we’re quite awake, able to see, and attentively listening to each other, we can’t help but discuss different aspects and nuances that we hadn’t seen or considered before, thus interrupting the all important flow. That, and Stephen’s villains are all slow-talkers which makes me either laugh or want to smack him every time he reads their dialogue depending on my tolerance level for slow-talkers at that moment.

Perhaps we should listen to the book on CD, read along in our own copies of the book, and hold the discussion for between the chapters. Of course, we could read it on our own and then discuss – but anyone, anywhere can do that. So we persist.

Cool cover on the unabridged
book on CD read by Scott Brick

Darn! I wish that Mr. Gilmore had read the entire novel, rather than an abridged version. I would have liked to have heard him attempt to give voice to Dagny Taggart. I’m odd that way.


Katie Davis said...

A few years ago my husband and I tried to read Atlas aloud before bed and it was way too soothing--I kept falling asleep. I like your listening to the audio book and then discussing it after each chapter. I think I'm going to have to try that one.

Lynne said...

After having solidly dramatized 2-1/2 pages last night before noticing my listener was dead asleep, I'd have to agree - it's time to move to Plan B.