Jennie and I are no longer friends.
Recently, she referred to this book As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway as "the book that totally ruined Looking for Alaska" for her. I was intrigued. Ruined Alaska, you say? How is such a thing possible, unless As Simple As Snow was actually the best book ever written. I tried to imagine such a book. Was it written in words of pure gold, written by Jesus himself?
I had to find out for myself. I hunted it down through Chicago Public Library's (sadly inadequate) website, and then I hunted it down again in the stacks of the Bucktown branch, where it was shelved with the adult fiction. I settled down in one of the big comfy chairs on the second floor, overlooking the blinking lights of Milwaukee through rain-spattered windows, and began to read it. I picked it up again on the bus this morning, and again over lunch. I couldn't figure out how I felt about it. I couldn't tell if I liked it or not. Reading it, I was reminded of seeing Ghost World years ago; I didn't know if I liked the movie until weeks later.
"Is it good?" one of my co-workers asked, watching me read.
"I don't know," I said. "I won't know until it's finished. It depends on the payoff."
I finished it just after I got home tonight.
It is similar to Looking for Alaska, I will grant it that.
It has an interesting, spooky -- even haunting -- tone, I will grant it that.
The characters are interesting and often surprising, I will grant it that.
For a book, it has excellent taste in music and art, I will grant it that.
But... it is a PUZZLE! I HATE puzzles! I have no patience for them at all.
I know, as an intelligent and creative and inquisitive person, I should love puzzles, but I don't. I cheat on crosswords, even the easy ones. I abandon Sudoku squares if I can't fill them all in under thirty minutes. I despised WEFFRIDDLES even though I made it through fifty some levels.
At some point, I just want to KNOW.
After reading As Simple As Snow, I spent about a half-hour searching the web for clues about the book. I solved the Houdini code, had a moment of satisfaction, and then realized that I still wanted more answers. Maddening!
I think this would be a wonderful book to read with a bunch of people (especially if they could solve the riddles and clues and just tell me the answers!), but as I'm alone with my head cold, I'm just annoyed. I could be wise about it, could tell myself something about how life doesn't come with easy answers, Molly, and the pleasure is in the journey, not the destination.... I could give the book credit for making me think, for getting under my skin, for making me feel something.... but all I really want to do is find someone to give me the easy answers, now, so I can go to bed. Damn you, Jennie! Pray-now pray-tell speak pray-quickly pray asnwer-be quick look answer-be quick answer-pray now tell!
This is what I know happened, or think happened. I fell in love with a girl, and then she left, and later she tried to come back, or I thought she did, and I went after her. It should have been simple but in the end it could not have been more complicated, and maybe that was the whole point to begin with, but if love is true and still leaves you lonely, what good does it do? I started going over everything again, thinking I might find a way to her, wherever she was, or at least figure out what to do with all the things she left behind.....