Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Pevear/Volokhonsky transl.)
I swung by Borders today to pick up a copy of the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation of Crime and Punishment. We're reading it in the library's Classics Group in a couple months and I want to get a head-start on something that may take a while to read with suitable attention, allowing time to fit in a little critical reading if I have the chance.
Borders had it, somewhat surprisingly. Only one copy, but space is premium, etc. All was well with the world.
I went to the cash register, paid, and as the clerk took my credit card she asked, "Is this for you?" Then, "Do you need a gift receipt?" I replied yes and no, respectively. As she handed me back my credit card and I turned to leave, she called out a loud, "Congratulations!"
Congratulations? On buying a book? If she thinks that's great I should have told her I can go potty all by myself.
I paused a second, unsure how or if to respond. But there were people in line after me, so in consideration of them I turned and walked away. Though afterward I felt uncomfortable having said nothing, feeling more than a little gobsmacked it happened in the first place.
My first question should have been "Why?," in case there was some reason she thought what I was doing was worthy of an 'atta girl! Maybe there's something I was missing, something that just didn't occur to me. But it came off sounding like No one without a great deal of intelligence is capable of reading a classic work of Russian literature, so you deserve a pat on the back. Oh, and by the way, you don't look the type to handle this book.
Tell me, does this sound difficult?:
"At the beginning of July, during an extremely hot spell, towards evening, a young man left the closet he rented from tenants in S___y Lane, walked into the street, and slowly, as if indecisively, headed for the K____n Bridge."
That's the beginning paragraph of the book. Anything unclear about that? Anything obscure? I didn't think so.
Maybe it's the English major in me, or, now, the librarian, that let her inane comments get under my skin. But they certainly did, enough to make me want to write about what should have been a pretty routine errand – certainly nothing worthy of celebration. If I'd paid my water bill would I be writing about that? Would I receive congratulations for it? Doubtful, unless something unusual or dramatic were related to it, like if I literally dragged myself from home to the village hall, determined to pay my bill if it killed me, dammit!
Next time anything like this happens I hope I'll take the time to ask what made the event so special, rather than just letting it go because that's the easier route. I'd feel a lot more inclined to congratulate myself about that.