Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Veronika Decides to Die

I finished reading the book Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo this afternoon over my lunch hour. I think this was supposed to be an uplifting book, but it sent me into a really deep depression that I think I am just starting to lift out of nearly 8 hours later. I thought it might help to write about it, but honestly I'm not really sure what to say. Without spoiling any important plot points, the main gist is that Veronika, the main character, tries to commit suicide, fails, and over time reconnects with her will to live. Along the way we learn why Veronika didn't want to live anymore and also the histories of several of her fellow mental institution inmates. The author takes us through one woman's experience of panic attacks in such detail that I almost had a panic attack reading about them. Anyway, I have read a few depressing books in my life. The Bell Jar, Go Ask Alice, and Anna Karenina are some that come to mind. I think what disturbs me most about Veronika Decides to Die is that I think it was supposed to put me in a good mood, not make me depressed. I think I was supposed to rediscover how valuable my life is and feel really happy to be alive through the process of reading it. I was actually looking forward to feeling inspired, to finding new purpose, but I'm afraid that didn't happen. What a bummer...

3 comments:

Jake said...

Yeah, it's a funny thing about "uplifting" stories. I often find that they don't lift me up so much as leave me very roiled and sometimes more depressed than before, whereas really depressing stories don't have much of an effect either way. Sometimes I think this is a measure of my own baseline of being somewhat depressed, but I don't know. I mean, if that's the case, then an uplifting story simply serves to remind me of how blue I am in comparison to those happy shining characters, whereas the depressing stories are just ... yeah, that's how life is.

Good topic for today. It's raining a Boston rain, grey and even a slight bit chilly.

Celeste Winant said...

I just read Paul Auster's "The Music of Chance" that put me in such a deep funk at the end that I was catatonic. I think that I was supposed to experience redemption at the end, but I felt anything but.

Sometimes, a book beats you up too much

Pam said...

Thanks for the tip. I will totally avoid Auster's book. I just don't understand anymore why people want to read / watch / listen to something depressing. I'm looking for interesting things to think about and laughter!