Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Blue Notebook

I am not sure why I decided to read The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine given the subject matter. It is the story of a child prostitute named Batuk who escapes from the here and now of her life by writing in a blue notebook. She is a story-teller and dreamer at heart and no matter how sordid and horrifying the reality of her life, she dreams on steadfastly and is able to find oblivion at least for a while in her notebook.

That was possibly the idea that made me gravitate toward the book. Levine's graphic descriptions of the brutal sexual abuse the child is subjected to made it impossible for me to read the story. Time after time, I had to skip several pages before I was able to find something I could actually bear to read. It is a book I will not be able to forget - not because of  it had exceptional literary merit but for my visceral reaction to it.

It seemed to me that the author in the process of feeling empathy for his character, was not longer able to maintain the aesthetic distance from his story. In as such, the reader feels like they are being dragged through the cesspool and the character of Batuk turns two dimensional from that perspective. A reader may expect to feel pained for Batuk but instead find themselves like the author hurting along with her. In all, a very unsual reading experience.


Priyamvada_K said...

I cannot bear to read about or see on film, scenes of torture. Visceral reaction is right - you feel repelled by it.

Some days ago when you posted a link about someone's account of childhood abuse at the hands of a stepdad, I could not read past the first few paragraphs.

It takes a strong stomach to handle such things.


Anonymous said...


brandysoda said...

You know this seems to be the kind of reaction I had to Precious, which won a couple of Oscars not so long ago. I generally like dark films. But honestly, I just didn't get the point of this film. Do we really need to portray utter desolateness to show a glimpse of hope at the end? And not real hope at that. hmm...not so sure myself. - Bryan