Friday, December 4, 2009

Outsider Book of the Month- December 09 e-issue #6: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Review written by Nickolas Cook

Well, it’s that time of the year again. People will be roasting their houses over an open fire because they forgot to check the plugs, hanging tacky pepper lights upon anything that will bear their sparkling, blinking weight, driving through dangerous and unpredictable shopper traffic at the mall, fighting one another for the last Barbie with detachable breasts, or the limited edition Spank-Me Elmo doll. Ah, tis’ the season to make you say BAH-HUMBUG!
As you get older, Christmas cheer takes a little more work when you have to face such examples of mass stupidity every year (and it keeps getting extended more and more each year, thanks to greedy merchandisers who ring the bell so we can all salivate like good little doggies). But whenever the holidays start getting to me, and my mood threatens to turn dastardly, I pick up my worn copy of A CHRISTMAS CAROL and sit somewhere nice and quiet and let good old Chas. Dickens re-teach me the true meaning of Christmas.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story (and I can’t see how you could be, unless you’ve been living on another planet or something, because this story is so ubiquitous that Xmas doesn’t even have to be part of it anymore), Dickens tells the tale of one Ebenezer Scrooge, a man so bent and wizened by his avarice and cynicism that the holidays actual piss him off. After a brief introduction to illustrate what a bastard he is, Scrooge is visited by his late business partner, Jacob Marley, a spirit who is weighed down by the chains of his living sins unto death. Marley warns Scrooge that he’s in deep ca-ca, and will soon be wearing his own afterlife bling if he’s not careful, and advises him that he’ll be visited by three spirits this night: the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
And, well, read the book…you should, if you haven’t. Because what Dickens does so deftly, while tugging even the most jaded of cobwebbed heartstrings, is to make Scrooge human again, illuminating the trials and loves that made him what he is. It gives him hope for himself by showing him, first, his lost childhood, second, his present blindness, and lastly, his sure future if he doesn’t mend his ways. In short, Dickens says, ‘Life is short and then you die, so it’s best if you do some good with your money and your life before it’s too late to make an impact’.
There have been tons of film, TV and written adaptations of this classic story; and for good reason: people fundamentally want to be good, and they want someone to remind them of what good they can do when they want to. And I would say, without A CHRISTMAS CAROL, we might not recognize our modern sentimental ideal of the holidays.
From all of us at The Black Glove, Merry Christmas. Please enjoy your holidays with respect and love for others, as it should be.

--Nickolas Cook