Readers' Corner

3 Books. 3 Different Genres. Worst Human Traits

The common thing in these books is the self-pitying main characters. But this trait can lead to very different consequences depending on factors that are around. And arises under various circumstances. But no matter how, why, or any other reasons, it occurs, Self-pitying is the worst feeling that characters can perceive.


Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

An innovative and, at the same time, classic (or vice versa?). A novel whose title reflects not only the structure of the book but also life’s essence. The Hopscotch is a series of episodes from the life of 40-year-old Horacio Oliveira in Paris and Buenos Aires. Why is Oliveira interesting? He is a man who plays with life but is afraid to find himself in a situation unusual for him. There are rules that are understandable only to him (and perhaps to the Maga) in his game, which are constantly violated by life. The hero does not fit into any established human model: “deception of collective actions” and “evil loneliness” alien to him. With all this, he seeks harmony with the world.

The book’s content consists of Horacio’s meetings with friends, conversations on philosophical, literary, everyday topics, intricate relationships, and confessional monologues. There is no plot in the novel. And, strangely enough, I, who hate works without a clearly expressed story, really liked Hopscotch.

Perhaps, to understand the whole novel, you need to read it many, many times. At first, only the brightest moments are impressive and remembered. The rest is background noise.

For me, at least on the first reading, this novel has become a life story. This is a novel about doubt, self-pitying characters, the vicissitudes of fate, fear, death, love, a book about dreams (which, perhaps, are real life), and regrets. When reading the Hopscotch, the boundaries between the past and the future, between I and others, cease to exist. Sometimes it’s worth stopping and thinking: maybe it’s just an illusion.

In this story, self-pitying leads to ruin other characters’ lives and suicide. But, still, it is gorgeous.


Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

In anticipation of a heartbreaking survival thriller, I got something more: it’s a terrifying dystopia that leaves me asking myself some tough questions: what would I do if I were the characters, or how am I different from these nasty freaks?

But let’s start in order. In an abandoned mansion, by the will of a certain Mr. Whittier, several “creative people” are locked up, telling scary stories to each other.

Each of them is low and vile; they are scared, they have nothing to lose. In principle, this is the first book where you do not feel sympathy for any character; there is no canon antagonist; there are no villains either. Just the play’s protagonist, Mr. Whittier, unexpectedly leaves the stage, leaving our heroes alone with their demons. By telling stories, they try to relieve pain, justify themselves, kill the story, and discard it as forever forgotten. In their godforsaken captivity, each of them is right.

Locked for a long time, they try to create a devil to blame for their sins; they will torture themselves in their attempts to appear before society (and before themselves) as holy martyrs, innocent victims. However, they have to torture themselves for this, and when the thirst for blood is not limited to this, the victims take on each other.

Reading the book, you are horrified by reality. After all, maybe, war, hunger, poverty is what people feed their vices with? And we do not need someone who will die for our sins; we need a devil at whom we can throw a stone.

And it’s all because we pity ourselves too much to accept our flaws, mistakes, and evil deeds.


Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In) by John Ajvide Lindqvist

The thing that I liked most about it was the cloudy halo, as if splashed with soapy water, molten glass through which you observe all the events taking place in a small remote town in Sweden. The grayness of winter streets washed with the slushy mess. Bare trees. Rare snow, sticky and squeaky. Lonely heroes, mired in problems, as if in the same dirty well, from which you cannot get out without getting the top of your head dirty. One gets the impression that the novel could well have done without vampires, but their presence, even more, brightens up the poor situation of the heroes, traditionally sprinkling the snow with blood. The atmosphere of oppression and darkness is at its height, which fascinates me immensely in this kind of work.

The heroes may not be fully revealed, but there are many of them. They are all diverse, and their story-lines are intertwined competently. Where it needs this, I love this kind of storytelling. Maybe it spoils the book somewhere, let’s say with a couple of extra cardboard characters, but if you take it as a whole, it gives the plot more scale and integrity.

The line of the Virginia character (but not the stomach) was to the taste. Especially at the end. Pretty harsh, and a cynical drama came out. Now I fully understand that being a vampire is a real curse, filled with suffering and loneliness.

One of the main shocking twists in the plot, unnoticed by me in the film adaptations, related to Eli, when reading it, made me say “wow” out loud. I certainly did not expect this. If Twilight fans have tried reading the novel, I imagine their reaction. No, not a reference. Just a little upside-down of the romance genre about vampires, which, of course, was traced in this work. However, even here, the author was able to surprise.

I strongly advise against reading the book to children. She is strictly for an adult reader. The novel is depressing, flavored with such spectacles as brutal violence, evil, blatant pedophilia. I will add that the film adaptations do not even share those poignant moments with which the original source is whole.

I will not say that this is bad. As a lover of such sights, I sipped it to the fullest, leaving a bitter residue not so much in my throat as in my heart. Since the story impressed me and, I think, will appeal to the rest of the fans of this genre.

Here is shown how self-pitying may lead to anger and aggressive behavior of characters, and the desire for revenge.


All these books have in common that terrible things happen to people, whether they provoke it or not. But in “Hopscotch,” there is a glimpse of good, such as Oliveira’s loyal friends and his efforts not to harm anyone. Lindqvist’s book has another bright side of that depressive atmosphere. Emma Flores, the writer at StudyCrumb, notes about “Let me in”: “But still, the book is all about a true friendship, about pure love that doesn’t need any material things.”. Only “Haunted” has no good side. You can accept it or not.


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