I’m working on finishing up the 30 or so books I’m in the middle of. I’ll post quick reviews of each one here.
Review of: The Savage God, A. Alvarez
This was a study of suicide. It’s a little hard to say what kind of study. It didn’t examine it psychologically in any real depth. It didn’t go really deep into any kind of analysis.
Mostly, it surveyed the ways in which suicide was regarded in literature through the ages. As tangents of this focus, it also talked a little about how culture in general has viewed suicide, and spent some time considering the effect of suicide on the arts and of the arts on suicide.
The other main thing it did was to give moving accounts of Sylvia Plath’s suicide and of the author’s own suicide attempt.
The biggest thing I learned was that people who are drawn to suicide often find themselves sort of fascinated by it, but at the same time mostly they don’t want to do it. It’s just that in certain moods, they just about decide to, and the rest of the time they feel that, inevitably, sooner or later in one of those moods they will follow through. Also, they may sort of flirt with the idea of committing suicide, sort of play with it or plan for it or rehearse it or attempt it halfheartedly because doing so brings an important sense of relief to them.
How do I evaluate the book? I liked it. It had a friendly, conversational feel. It was an easy read. I didn’t get any epiphanies from it, but I feel like it made me aware of the topic. I would put it just over halfway on the 1-10 scale, perhaps but probably not worth re-reading.