When I bought the Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, the bookseller told me he found it boring. From all of the controversy I’d heard about this book, and the fact that it was written by the Henry Miller, I didn’t believe him. But he was right. This book was boring, but it was also beautiful. His prose was delicious. Some of his sentences were like eating a piece of candy. The narrative is just like real life- pointless and just a bit boring.
Henry Miller, the American expat, in his prose transports us to Paris in the 1930s. It is still real in his words, a place where prostitutes are plenty, purposes are optional, and words, words mean everything. This is Henry’s story. Henry lives his life and doesn’t give a damn. He writes about writing a novel that is going to change the world in a novel that changed the world. He floats through the street looking no further than his next meal and the next conversation – conversations with his vibrant, artsy wanderers. Henry’s world is a world I would like to live in- beautiful, simple, obscene.
This book, this captured reality behind printed prose, is definitely worth a read. More than that, it gives one courage to go out and be one’s self brashly. While Henry may be a misogynist asshole- these women, these prostitutes floating in and out of Henry’s arms, nameless, faceless, just bed warmers- he has a vigor for life that is contagious. That makes you want to keep living even when there is no point, just for one more meal and one more fuck.
List of Things to Do After Reading:
- Go to Paris and wander hungry
- Watch Henry and June the film
- Read his next book, Tropic of Capricorn
- Drink wine, drink more wine
- Write a story that is misandrist.