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The Fixer
Bernard Malamud, Jonathan Safran Foer
The Wayward Bus
John Steinbeck

The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand is there anything better than coming back to your favorite book and finding it as glorious as you remember?i try to read often and a lot and i've never come across a book i love better.what strikes me every time i read this book is how much i don't agree with her actual point (or some of them) but how much i can still take away. also, how derisive she is toward me, and how i love to take it from her.some people say that this is a book to be read when you're young (late teens/early twenties) when you can truly embrace it, and that returning to it (or reading it later in the first place) you will see your folly. i think i first read this book when i was 21, and i loved it. this is my 4th read of the book and now that i'm 32, i still love it. i speculate that the reason that most young people love this book at first, and then find it horrifying, is as follows:rand claims through howard roark, the book's hero, that the only way to live is by being true to yourself. through the book she shows how difficult it is to do that in this world. (but she is clear that there is no excuse in not living for yourself and yourself only.) not succumbing to other's opinions, views, critiques, etc, and doing what you need to do to live the way you believe in, creating that which you want to, in the way that you want to. it's a struggle, and you're always fighting the other people, most beautifully shown in the character of peter keating, who i have always thought is probably the best written character in literature. throughout the book she gives the reader tastes of her philosophy, which is pretty objectionable in practice, but i don't think this is the problem people have with it. i think that people read this book and love it because they think that they are noble, like howard roark. they're young and they believe that they will never compromise their selves and they love the heroism in themselves that rand says they thereby have. but then they reread this book 10 years later and realize that they aren't howard roark in the end. they've compromised, they care about other people's opinions, views, esteem. in order to continue to feel good about themselves, they have to believe that howard roark is no hero after all, and then what's the point of this book anyway, and they think that it's not nearly as good as it was at that first read. and maybe by devaluing this character and this book, they can re-value themselves.i've known from the beginning that i was no howard roark. i recognized that the vast majority of readers of this novel, including me, are peter keating. while that's completely contemptible, it's realistic. i can only hope that i never reach the depths that keating does, but i also know that i will never be roark. reading as a story, the characters toohey and wynand may seem like hyperboles of a character (but we know that roark and dominique are never that) but peter keating never could feel that way. he is so purely written. he is everyone. i read this for the first time, and every time since, knowing that peter keating is simply awful, and that i am peter keating. and that if ayn rand had the capacity to think about anyone other than those that were worth thinking about (her roark and her dominique), that she would revile me for it, but that because i'm peter keating, she'd never give me any thought at all.that said, there is a lot about roark that i'm perfectly satisfied not being. (a rapist is one of those things. i've never been able to wrap my head around that part of this book, although i came closest during this reading. i'm still disappointed and wish she wrote that differently.)one thing i will always take away from this book (and that blew my mind when i first read it) was the power of the media. i always find myself thinking about ellsworth toohey and the power the people in the media have to shape public opinion and direct where money is syphoned in our society.i obviously don't agree with her opinions of social work (and let's be honest, capitalism or socialism) and people who do help others. (although i absolutely agree that there's no such thing as altruism.) i've never been totally satisfied with the ending of this book (maybe the last 4 or so out of the 700 pages) and the way she wraps thing up. my point is that you don't have to agree with ayn rand's philosophy or every dramatic point to appreciate this book. i'm stunned that english is not her first language, because this book is written with such precision. and barring any feeling about the statements that she makes, this is a compelling story with characters that completely suck you in. (i mean come on, how is this not an amazing beginning: "Howard Roark laughed. [P:] He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. The water seemed immovable, the stone -- flowing." i typed that and am compelled to start the book over again, to just keep reading. i love the way she starts this book.and it's worth saying that although one of her points is how lacking self we all are, another of her points is also how much she esteems the human being and how great she knows we can be.i have so much to say about this book and much of it is disjointed....i guess i'll let her say the rest:in her introduction:"It is not in the nature of man - nor of any living entity - to start out by giving up, by spitting in one's own face and damning existence; that requires a process of corruption whose rapidity differs from man to man. Some give it up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees and lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it. Then all of these vanish in the vast swamp of their elders who tell them persistently that maturity consists of abandoning one's mind; security, of abandoning one's values; practicality, of losing self-esteem. Yet a few hold on and move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose and reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and of life's potential....It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man's proper stature--and that the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life it's meaning--and it is those few that I have always sought to address. The rest are of no concern of mine; it is not me or The Fountainhead that they will betray: it is their own souls."and in the book:"They stood silently before each other for a moment, and she thought that the most beautiful words were those which were not needed.""'It's said that the worst thing one can do to a man is to kill his self-respect. But that's not true. Self-respect is something that can't be killed. The worst thing is to kill a man's pretense at it.'""'...a quest for self-respect is proof of its lack.'""'What you feel in the presence of a thing you admire is just one word - 'Yes.' The affirmation, the acceptance, the sign of admittance. And that 'Yes' is more than an answer to one thing, it's a kind of 'Amen' to life, to the earth that holds this thing, to the thought that created it, to yourself for being able to see it.'"