The Brothers K

You know that teacher you had in high school who would talk about the boring, confusing book you'd just been assigned to read three chapters of the night before, and who would be laughing out loud about how hilarious it is? Or they'd be near tears because something was so sad and you didn't get it at all? Well, it may not come as much of a surprise that I, whose three solo albums have each had a Hemingway reference, really wanted to be that teacher, buuuuuutttttttt, it's true... I actually went to college, a whole year, mind you, two, count 'em, TWO semesters, majoring in English Education.

I bring this up because I've just been here in my hotel room in Atlanta, GA laughing out loud while reading a scene from 'the Brothers Karamazov'.

You may or may not have heard of this book, but it's a gigantic novel from the 1800s written by the Russian genius Fyodor Dostoevsky. I went through a Russian novel phase a few years ago and read all the big ones: 'Anna Karenina', 'Crime and Punishment' and the first hundred pages of 'War and Peace' eight times (though never any further). 'The Brothers Karamazov' was my favorite of all of them, though.

It took me a year to read the first half, and one night to read the second. I was in New Orleans with The Normals where we were recording "Coming to Life'. I sat down to read a bit before bed around 11 and finished the book at 7 am. It was amazing. And huge. My arms and hands hurt for two days from holding that book up so long.

I'm afraid I don't quite have the luxury of time to do that again these days so I'm reading the abridged version. Ol' Fyodor liked to circle a point about sixteen times to make sure you got it, and they just kept the best one so this book is still all there. Maybe that makes it more clear, or maybe it's that I've read it before, but it's been really easy to read and I am marveling again at how amazing of a writer he was.

Seriously, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekov, what was in the water over there? Some of the most amazing characters and scenes. So vibrant and real. 'Crime and Punishment' was so scary at one point I actually slept with the lights on. No movie has ever made me do that. A story by Tolstoy called 'Family Happiness' left me crying and wanting desperately to fall in love (pre- Alison, of course...). Actually, it made me call her and tell her to go out and buy the book, (she was in NC at her parents' house for the Summer while she was in college.)

That's all I have to say, I guess, just that it probably makes me a big nerd, but if I keep loving The Brothers K so much I might take a ninth swing at 'War and Peace'. And in 2014 write a blog about how I finished the second half last night...