Speeding along on the 401 back from Toronto yesterday, we listened to an audio tape of the Dalai Lama’s Advice on Dying. The book includes a lot of preachy stuff about impermanence, and how living a virtuous life will help you to die a better death. We misplaced the folder with the rest of the tapes, so when the first tape was up, we decided to listen to the other audio book we brought, Philip Roth’s Everyman. Growing weary of listening to His Holiness drone on about giving up my pet attachments: friends, food, beauty, sex I was happy to switch to Roth.
Wouldn’t you know it, Roth starts out Everyman with a burial. What becomes clear almost immediately is that the main character in the coffin was never a follower of the Dalai Lama. The miseries of living the non virtuous life are detailed as we learn more and more about this very human, and thus very likable, womanizing advertising exec. Not a pretty sight.
When the scenery grew too gruesome in the Roth novel (detailed descriptions of advanced aging), we hunted the back seat till we found the Dalai Lama lecture, listened for a bit, then returned to Roth. We ping ponged back and forth and back and forth, from the sublime to the concrete and then back again. (Not unlike our trips from Dayton to Toronto, although I’m not sure which is which.)
There was, and is, no escape.
I highly recommend the stereo experience. I’m wondering what other books would listen well together. Suggestions anyone?