13 April 2010

Day 17: Haunted

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk.  ISBN: 9781415921512 (audiobook).

After being so grossed out initially by this novel I'm not sure why I kept listening, but I'm glad I did.  The first short story so far has definitely been the most disgusting, although there have been a few I found unnecessarily vulgar.  Anyway, it was worth it because I learned about something new and for me, that's the whole point of reading.  Regardless of whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, there is always the opportunity to expose yourself to something new through reading.

Yesterday I found myself introduced to a new disease thanks to Palahniuk's character, Brandon Whittier.  Whittier suffers from a horrible disease called Progeria.  It's a congenital, but non-hereditary, disease that causes children to begin showing symptoms of aging.  These children rarely make it past thirteen.  Their appearance would almost be comical if it weren't for the heartbreaking truth that they will never lead normal lives even with the best of support networks.

In Palahniuk's story Whittier looks like a normal elderly man, which makes for a better story, but doesn't really give you a good idea of the disease.  Whittier was a complete asshole, not that I blame him for being angry, but I wonder if I would behave them same way.  This kid ruined lives, he was abandoned to the state and his life wasn't great, but if you knew your life was going to be short wouldn't you want to leave the best impression possible?  In a long life you have the potential to make up for all of the bad you've done even if you aren't planning to be a contributing member of society.

I guess if I was doomed to die at such a young age I might think someone owed me something in life.  But even when I was 13 and more self-entitled than I care to admit, I mostly just wanted to be left alone.  How much anger and resentment would a person have to carry around in such a short time to completely ignore the basic rights of other people?  Is it even possible to maintain that kind of anger when you're inflicted with this kind of disease?

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