The Light That Failed; or, The Little Light House That Couldn't
A book review based on the title, and then a review based on the actual book. We shall see which one is more appealing.
This novel by beloved author Rudyard Kipling is a tour de force through the depressing realms of pre- and post-war Maine. It’s told in whiplash inducing flashbacks and flashforwards, straddling the scenic 1860’s and dark 1980’s, before and after tragedy strikes. It tells the tale of a young lighthouse in Maine who wanted nothing more than to be a beacon of guidance for ships coming into the stormy and rocky port on shore. This plucky lighthouse is full of grit and determination and will stop at nothing to rise above the rest. She quickly becomes disillusioned when faced with the harsh realities of everyday life on the rough and tumble Permaquid Point in Bristol, Maine. She must turn to a life of trafficking barbiturates and prostitution before she ultimately burns to the ground. I found this charming novel to be a perfect allegory of the life of Judy Garland, and strongly referential to Amy Tan’s style of the Joy Luck Club. I would recommend reading this book if only to understand better what will happen to us all when our time comes.
Well I read the Wikipedia summary and couldn’t have been more wrong. Dick Heldar is a veteran of a war in Sudan, but he comes back to England to be a painter, despite the fact that the main reason he left was because of an eye injury. Visual art doesn't seem to be the right way to go, but whatever. He gets sort of popular for painting hyper-realistic war scenes but not really. He works on his masterpiece, Melancholia, using a prostitute named Bessie as his model. He torments her to get her to make the right face, and she gets pissed off. By this point Dick is pretty much blind and really tired, and falls asleep at the canvas. Bessie sneaks into his studio, smears his painting out of hatred, then leaves. Then Dick has his friend come over to look at his awesome new painting, and she dithers about telling the now-completely blind Dick what happened, but before she can break the news, Bessie comes back to tell him what she did. Well now Dick is Depressed with a capital D and goes back to Sudan to cry. He goes on a horse to meet his friend, then he’s shot and killed, the end. Well, all I can say is that at least it was about the same level of depressing as my expectations. No false advertising here.
Read this with a slice of dry toast on the side, and perhaps a glass of tepid milk to mimic the bleak themes, and listen to this playlist.