I’m not one to normally shy away from experimental artistic ventures, but I feel Gertrude Stein just went too far. I somewhat understand the vision behind her experimental writing and I even respect the delivery of it because I know I couldn’t do it (although I’ll attempt so later). With that said, it doesn’t work for me. I honestly had to take a nap in between Matisse and Picasso. I like to think when I read, watch movies and listen to music. I also am not a literary elite that can’t also enjoy what my uncle refers to as “fluff” material – mindless books, films and music. Even so, I can’t begin to wrap my head around trying to understand exactly what Gertrude was going for in these portraits.
Even her regular “mainstream prose” doesn’t do it for me. I wouldn’t even say it is dry like Chekhov’s writing, but something is off about it to me. It’s hard to articulate, but her sentences are very long and keep going. Not that they are grammatically incorrect nor would I know if they were because that’s one of the shortcomings in my own writing, but that’s what I think, nonetheless. For instance, one of the first paragraphs of The Good Anna goes, “Lindheim’s was Anna’s favorite store, for there they had bargain days, when flour and sugar were sold for a quarter of a cent less for a pound, and there the heads of the departments were all her friends and always managed to give her the bargain prices, even on other days.” You can somewhat see the influence of her experimental writing in this.
I agree with the concept of escapism via reading, especially with respect to reading for relaxation. In fact, I primarily read books by Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child, Dan Brown and James Rollins that are considered “popular fiction.” They are very accessible in terms of allowing that escapism. With Stein, good luck with that. You can’t gloss over the material – you have to focus word by word to grasp it.
I haven no problem with a writer creating art that is left up for interpretation from those viewing the art and probing for intentions behind it. For instance, I did a paper in another English class where I tried to interpret the meaning behind Queen’s song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But reading Stein is like attempting to find her meaning, but the writing is in a different language.
Okay, I guess I’ll take a stab at this experimental stuff. I have written something similar before. Okay. Not remotely similar. But it gave me the outline to do this. I was posting at a message board and there was this member there driving me crazy. The way he posted was like taking ten sentences to explain something that could be summed up in only one sentence. So I did sort of a satirical post and talked about a red apple for three or so pages with no period breaks. And yes at the time I had way too much time on my hands. Well, I still do. Nonetheless, I had to edit it a lot to fit Stein’s style more. I used her Tender Buttons collection as guidance.
The Red Apple
I’d like to take this time to very carefully explain to you the very color of this very here apple. Now you may be unsure as to the color this here apple may hold, but that is why I am here to tell you the very ways of the apple.
Outside I was, outside there, outside here was the apple. Outside you, outside they, outside we watch the apple. Red it is, not red, very red, here red was the apple.
If you read it fast, it sounds lyrical a bit… I tried.