Well, the internet is finally working again.
We had a series of big-ass storms roll through here yesterday, resulting in power outages. A whole passel of us fled to the closest house with power and cable television in order to watch the season finale of Game of Thrones, which was balls-out awesome, and upon returning home we were glad to see that the power had been restored by the stalwart, tireless folk of the Metropolitan Edison Power Company.
Of course, the phone, internet, and cable television were all out, so I did what any red-blooded American would have done in a similar situation: called up Comcast to bitch about it. Now, I used to work the call center for Cablevision – a job that lasted all of nine months and ended up with me literally curled up in the fetal position in the bathroom of Cablevision’s Melville call center – so I wasn’t about to subject any of those poor Comcast service reps to any vitriol; I just stayed on the line long enough to hear the canned message that there was a service interruption in my area.
What I did do instead – considering I’d just taken two Excedrin to stave off a headache – was to finally plow through one of the books that’s been on my “I need to get to this” list for years. Tonight, it was The Kite Runner, and I don’t know if you’ve ever read it, but it made it obvious to me that my loss of cable television and internet for an evening was truly one of those first world problems that I should really be ashamed of bitching about.
The book is incredibly hard to read, and not because it’s written poorly; quite the opposite, in fact. Khaled Hosseini‘s prose is emotional without being sentimental, elegiac in its memory of an Afghanistan before the Soviet occupation and Taliban “liberation” without falling into nostalgia, and poetic without becoming overly stylized. What makes it a difficult read is the honest, if tasteful (if it can ever by considered such) depiction of the violence, the cruelty. and the atrocities people can inflict upon one another under the guise of religious purity.
The plot itself is nothing new under the sun, and you’ll see the major plot twist a mile away, but this doesn’t really detract from the novel as a whole, as the setting of the action – pre- and post-occupation Kabul, with an interlude in the San Francisco of the 80s and 90s – is interesting enough to keep you turning pages, even when it’s painful to do so. Hosseini populates his novel with memorable characters, suffering from as many faults as they possess in virtues, making them fallible but ultimately human – and eminently relatable.
In essence, The Kite Runner is a story about sin and redemption. Sometimes you need to finally forgive yourself for the things you’ve done in the past that you have been silently atoning for over the years; sometimes part of that process will be to balance the cosmic scales in some way. Just because you may have done wrong in the past, that act doesn’t erase all the good you’ve done to atone for it afterwards – a bad person would not care to make amends. A good person feels the need to never stop – but it’s never too late to make things right.