Harold and Maude, now streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime, deals with a timeless issue: the crushing morbidity of precocious young people. When our brains are getting used to being alive, we can’t help but confront some of the hypocrisy and misery we see around us. If you’re sensitive and dramatic as well, everything can seem wonderful and horrible and you can’t imagine how anyone does this life thing.
“You’re a very beautiful girl,” Don tells Sally. “It’s up to you to do more than that.” Like most of the best advice we give, Don’s talking to himself. He’s echoing an observation Mathis yelled at him earlier in the episode, “You don’t have character. You’re just handsome.”
Celebrated contemporary writer George Saunders’ stories are works of futuristic satire that sting with the dark truth of pessimism, but still have a moving sweetness at their core. Binging on his short stories is like binging on raspberries; they taste like candy, but they are still really good for you. While many of his stories are emotionally moving and infused with a thread of kindness, they are still quite dark. Uplifting isn’t exactly a word I think of when I… Read more »
“When you grow up, your heart dies.” That line from The Breakfast Club is so painfully true, it shatters me every time. The good news is that you can grow a new, improved one if you’re up for it. As we mature we learn hard truths about the world, and ourselves, our innocence shatters, and we feel betrayed by all the lies and misunderstandings we had as a child. We see how ruthless people can be, and how devastating hard it is to live your dreams or find any little scrap of happiness. Growing cold and bitter can seem like a perfectly reasonable response of a sensitive creature to a cruel world.
We all know grumpy older people, and may even feel that we are becoming one ourselves, but in reality it may actually be younger people, teenagers and twentysomethings, that struggle the most with blaming their problems on others, and having sour world views. You can make disillusionment work for you if you realize you don’t need illusions to begin with.
In 2010 author Zadie Smith offered these 10 tips for writing as part of a project for The Guardian inspired by a similar list Elmore Leonard provided The NY Times 10 years earlier. Other authors participated in this exercise, but Zadie’s was the one I found on Tumblr today, and it stopped me dead in my tracks with it’s leveling wisdom. Numbers four, nine, and ten can apply to absolutely anything in life, but number three gets down to the core of it: “You can either write good sentences or you can’t.”