Finished: “Sophie’s Choice,” William Styron (#96)
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck. I hate unhappy endings. Holy shit. I feel like I got punched in the stomach. This was some heavy, heavy shit. A meandering intertemporal character study that brought me closer to the protagonist (Stingo, not Sophie) than any other so far. I felt everything he felt about Sophie. Jesus this book was tough. More Nazis, American South racism, sex, drugs, mental illness, death fixation and emotional and physical torture than I thought possible to cram into one book (560+ pages, though). The real deal. When I got to the first borderline pornographic part, I was pretty shocked. But between the frequent recurrence of these sections and the sheer weight of the book’s emotional payload, I was numb to them by the end. While Sophie does make a notable, impossible choice, she is constantly choosing courses of action (mostly self-destructive) throughout the novel. I think her titular “choice” is not just the single choice, but her capacity to choose in general – as in, the freedom of choice. Either way I don’t really care though. The book was freakin’ awesome. I’m afraid that the next book on the list will be lukewarm at best no matter what, so long as it’s in Sophie’s shadow.
P.S., her choice is which one of her two children to send to the gas chamber in Auschwitz.