Saturday, March 6, 2010

We the Living - Ayn Rand

"What?" you ask, "Ayn Rand?  How is that 'stuff young people read?' I thought it was old people who were all about Atlas Shrugged."
Well, let me explain.  Before Ayn Rand went too crazy about capitalism, she wrote this book about a girl in her late teens named Kira.  Kira lived in the new Soviet Union, and was from a family that was once pretty wealthy. However, things were changing quite a bit.
Kira decides to start college, studying architecture.  She dreamed of designing buildings.
Then she meets some guys.
One of them is a somewhat noble fellow named Leo.  She quickly becomes obsessed with him and they get a nice flat together.
But since Kira and Leo are from upper class families, things start getting taken away from them.
They're no longer supposed to have money because that don't fly with the Soviets.  They're not really supposed to have such a large flat, and some lower class girl gets to use half their flat and they have to share a bathroom with the dirty whore.
Seriously, she was a dirty whore who had a miscarriage in the bathroom and refused to clean it up because it was too 'bourgeois' to keep a shared bathroom clean.
Oh, and then Kira starts sleeping with Andrei, who was a really nice guy, but  a Communist. So she naturally does not tell him she's living with Leo and uses him to get stuff she wants that she can't get because she's bourgeois.
So for a while, she's got a setup.
Then she gets kicked out of school for being bourgeois, and her life generally sucks.
Plus she's two timing these guys, cranky Leo who she loves and sweet ole Andrei who really loves her.
And everything pretty much goes downhill from there.
Now, the main message of this book is that living in the Soviet Union sucks.  However, it is also about a young adult woman trying to find her way in a world that makes no sense, and it's not nearly as preachy as Atlas Shrugged.  Which, to be honest, could have used more editing.  However, We the Living is not preachy, and uses the plot to get the point across.
And really, it's very interesting.  It was probably one of the most powerful books I've ever read, and I can't figure out why everyone reads Atlas Shrugged (Cliffs Notes) instead.  I consider this book to be Rand's best work in all its heartbreaking glory, and it's based on things that actually happened, not some theory of what the world will become if we don't listen to her (you know, like her other books).

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