The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
I have the feeling that if I loved novels, I would have loved this book. I really liked it though.
Here are some of my favorite parts, insights into:
Depression: "A lack of desire to spend money becomes a symptom of disease that requires expensive medication. Which medication then destroys the libido, in other words destroys the appetite for the one pleasure in life that's free, which means the person has to spend even more money on compensatory pleasures. The very definition of mental 'health' is the ability to participate in the consumer economy. When you buy into therapy, you're losing the battle with a commercialized, medicalized, totalitarian modernity right this instant."
The stupidity and rapacity of the investor class, that is, the world's ruling class: "Gitanas had created a satiric Web page offering DEMOCRACY FOR PROFIT: BUY A PIECE OF EUROPEAN HISTORY... Visitors to the site were invited to send cash to the erstwhile VIPPPAKJRIINPB17 - 'one of Lithuania's most venerable political parties,' the 'cornerstone' of the country's governing coalition for 'three of the last seven years,' the leading vote-getter in the April 1993 general election, and now a 'Western-leaning pro-business party' reorganized as the 'Free Market Party Company.' Gitanas's Web site promised that, as soon as the Free Market Party Company had bought enough votes to win a national election, its foreign investors would not only become 'equity shareholders' in Lithuania Incorporated (a 'for-profit nation state') but would also be rewarded, in proportion to the size of their investment, with personalized memorials to their 'heroic contribution' to the 'market liberation' of the country. By sending just $100, for example, an American investor could have a street in Vilnius ('no less than two hundred meters in length') named after him; for $5,000 the Free Market Party Company would hang a portrait of the investor ('minimum size 60 cm x 80 cm; includes ornate gilt frame') in the Gallery of National Heroes at the historic Slapeliai House; for $25,000 the investor would be awarded perpetual title to an eponymous town 'of no fewer than 5,000 souls' and be granted a 'modern, hygienic form of droit du seigneur' that met 'most of' the guidelines established by the Third International Conference on Human Rights."
Rationalizations: "She reasoned that if the problem in the dining room was her responsibility then she was horrendously derelict in not resolving it, and a loving mother could never be so derelict, and she was a loving mother, so the responsibility must not have been hers.
The travails of seduction: "For the next two hours D mainly paid attention to her hand, which she'd laid on the sofa cushion within easy reach of R's. The hand wasn't comfortable there, it wanted to be retracted, but she didn't want to give up hard-won territory."