Monday, September 17, 2007

Atlas Shrugged

toothpaste for dinner

Last year I tore through Steinbeck's East of Eden, and became a reader emboldened with the idea that indeed I could still read a big book. So I picked up Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I read The Fountainhead in high school, as all voracious high school readers have, and remember very little of it. Of course I knew that Ayn Rand was a philosopher-writer, and so of course in my adult life I have avoided reading her for pleasure as much as one avoids Wittgenstein on a beach blanket. But again, Steinbeck wooed me and so I picked up the heavy paperback thinking that I could climb the Great Books mountain once again.

Reading Atlas Shrugged was like rubbernecking on the great literary highway. I was staring at a gruesome accident of literature and couldn't look away. I had a crush on Dagny for three weeks. My own girlfriend would cast sidelong glances at the cover and frown. Friends were like why the hell are you reading that?! If I wasn't a writer I don't think I would have enjoyed it. While I found it a month long frustration with style and content (dear god what else is there?), I thought it was a helluva good story (oh, right, narrative...).

The reason I bring up this not-so-interesting story of my Atlas Shrugged experience is because a couple of days ago I read an interesting New York Times article, Ayn Rand's Literature of Capitalism. Who knew Ayn Rand outsells Jack Welch, and that Alan Greenspan wrote for her magazine, The Objectivist, several times? While I had a fun time reading Atlas Shrugged, I'll take Jay Gatsby over Dagny Taggart anyday, and Sinclair and Steinbeck and Dickens could outwrite Rand with their hands tied behind their backs. But America's CEO's are like any other readers, everybody has a novel where somewhere within the text there is inspiration, and a character becomes your hero.


Ms. M&P said...

Yeah, there are some crazy Any Rand fans out there...I find them a little scary. One of them jumped down my throat when I mispronounced her name. Apparently, it's not pronounced Ann Rand, it's Ayn (rhymes with wine) Rand. You probably already knew that, but I sure didn't.

Anonymous said...

There are crazy radicals with everything. Is this new news to you?

Anyway. Yuck. What a boring blog full of boring. I don't care if you had a crush on Dagny Taggart, it's silly that you take into consideration what other people are thinking of you reading Rand's work, and even sillier to write about your insecurities as if anyone in their right mind would like to listen to you. I'm writing this to cure my boredom. And, the silliest thing of all, is just that, because I know you crazy bloggers and how much you actually care... That is in fact why you do this, no? Because you can avoid people telling you that your ridiculous nonsense isn't worth listening to?

I find YOU a little scary.

(content sigh) Boredom cured.