As I was getting further and further into the story of Atlas Shrugged, I found myself struggling. I was struggling because the story was dense. I was struggling because everything about this felt even more boring than I had originally thought. I don’t like Atlas Shrugged. A lot of people like it. A lot of people hate it. I fall in the camp of hating it.
The book of Atlas Shrugged is about capitalism. There is no way around that. It is an argument for the ways of capitalism. It creates a very strong image that those who oppose capitalism are getting in the way of everything that we need from the world. Of course, the worst part of this story isn’t what it portrays (which is extremes of how our economic system works) but the way that it’s written.
It’s dry and humorless. There is so little world to be seen there. There are images that are beautiful and dramatic, but they are rare. The book held no spark for me. I wanted to find something in it that I could hold onto, but I found nothing. I still am looking for something that will allow me to move forward with this book, but I’m not sure that I will find it.
I have read books before that are a thinly veiled discussion of something much more complicated and boring. The best example I have of this is Anathem by Neal Stephenson. His books are dry at times, absolutely boring. Anathem, in particular, is pretty bad. My teenage brain was stubborn when it came to this book.
There was something in the pages that I found interesting and intriguing. There was a whole world contained in those pages, a whole system of living that I fell in love with. There were people and characters and concepts that were absolutely beautiful. There were descriptions everywhere. When I encountered a heavy piece of the text, I moved forward to find that next nugget. There was a lot of movement and a lot of discovery. I was learning alongside the other characters. My place was as a student in the book. I was one of them.
In Atlas Shrugged, I was just a witness. There was nothing beautiful about it. I wasn’t learning. I was being shown the empty moment and being forced to see what Ayn Rand wanted me to see. I just don’t like that way of writing. I want to be in the story and the moment, even if I am just a bystander.
However, what I want out of a book isn’t what everyone wants out of a book. There are some people that are fine just seeing a situation. They don’t care about feeling involved, they just want to see how it plays out in the end. If that’s how you feel, then more power to you. I have to feel involved in the story and really understand it. Anything that can make me forget about work for a couple of hours is just amazing. Getting lost in a story is what I want from anything that I pick up.
There are some stories that I can be lost about when I begin them, but once I find my place in the world it’s so worth it.
What do you want out of a story? What did Atlas Shrugged feel like when you read it? Let me know your thoughts on Ayn Rand’s book and whether or not I should keep trying to push my way through the book. For now, I’ll be moving onto a very different text that I will start talking about next week.