Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The 158-Pound Marriage, by John Irving (1978), is the tale of two couples who decide to share each other, or become a ménage à quatre, in an attempt to even out things in their relationships. It's Edith and Severin in one corner, Utchka and the unnamed, unreliable narrator in the other. The title of the book relates to wrestling, but the fighting image is close enough...anyway, Edith and the narrator have two things in common: they are both trying to be writers and they both met their spouses while traveling in Vienna. Severin and Utchka share a native language and have both lost family and suffered as children during WWII. Severin teaches German, but it's his position as a wrestling coach that is important to him.

John Irving has an outstanding talent for character development, and these well-drawn characters play a part in a fascinating drama. Is this all about sex, or something more? What are each of the four getting out of this arrangement? Unsurprisingly, one person will eventually call an end to this entanglement, and even though they all know that this is inevitable, it doesn't prevent the emotional upset that ensues.

There is some interesting use of symbolism throughout the book, and Irving's writing style is always very pleasing. I enjoyed it, though it always bothers me a little when the narrator remains nameless. In this case, I'd like to know who to slap, though I admit that by the end, I was pulling for him to make things right again with Utchka, the only one who seems to understand herself and who is understandably very hurt.


In other My Little World News, we watched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and I had an awful time following the plot. I felt like a big ol' dummy. The week before, though, we watched The Debt and I understood that one very well, so I'm not completely out of my mind. Good flick, by the way. 

I need to start doing more cryptograms, since I could do them at work during slow times. I don't have email or internet access, so problem solving in the area of staying awake is vital. Things may get a tad more interesting a bit soon, though, due to the fact that our branch manager has just given notice, and we still don't have an assistant branch manager. We've secretly replaced your branch manager and assistant branch manager with--nobody. Let's see what happens.

Another little problem at work is temperature. We all know whose idea these mostly-glass buildings were, and she was no architect. If it's comfortable in the drive-thru, it's absolutely freezing in the tiny break room and chilly in the lobby. If it's perfect in the lobby, the drive-thru is too hot and the break room is still freezing. No one sits in the break room anymore. Well, I never did, because it's an annoying place to be, even when it's not freezing. But now, NO ONE wants to spend any time at all there.  Luckily, the coat closet is back there, right beside the copy and fax machine. So, if you're coming back to do one of those tasks, and you don't have a sweater hanging in the closet, that's just your own fault. On the other hand, there's hardly a need for a refrigerator, so your lunch is guaranteed to be nice and cold until you're ready to go eat it in your car.

Lots of time has been spent trying to solve the problem, to no avail. Honestly, it would be easier to get a space heater. What a ridiculous situation.

And it's actually time for me to go to bed, so I don't have time to reflect here on how a couple kids young people at work grossed me out so badly that I had to cover my ears and make little noises so I wouldn't hear them trying to tell me about a TV show called--Jackass? Evidently, it's a real show and it sounds gruesome and I wish I didn't know about it. I'll probably have nightmares. AND I don't know what I'm reading next. I have too many books.

It's almost Wednesday! Whatchaupto?


Logophile said...

HAH I am playing on the interwebz when I ought to be working.

Don't be like me, kids.

Also, my last post was number 999 and I have imagined all sort of pressure on myself to do something interesting for # 1,000.

I may never post again.


Karen said...

I haven't read this book yet, but I agree. John Irving has an outstanding talent for character development. I really enjoyed meeting the Berry Family at The Hotel New Hampshire. Susie the Bear, too.

Karen said...

Jenny was the quirkiest character in The World According to Garp.

actonbell said...

Oh, Logo, I must make sure I don't miss it--and I hope you keep posting.

Karen, I really really need to read Garp sometime. I've read so many others, it's just perverse of me not to have read the most famous one.

TLP said...

I had to Google the Jackass show. Sounds horrid! "sadomasochistic superheroes" is included in the description.

I never read Garp either. I did like Cider House Rules, and A Prayer for Owen Meany, but don't like what I've heard about Garp.

actonbell said...

Mom, I saw the Garp movie, and it's quirky, but really interesting. I liked it.
And yes, I'm never ever gonna watch the Jackass show.

Bone said...

I mostly only know about Jackass because a few people have said I look like Steve-O, one of the characters on there.

Stiff nipples make me chuckle.

Doug Pascover said...

Cryptograms! I forgot all about 'em!