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I know, it's Black History Month so you might think I'd probably be reading something related to black history. Well, I'm not. Go ahead, revoke my black card if you want to.

Instead of slave narratives or Toni Morrison, this past Friday night, I picked up a copy of The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir. This tale of post-World War II angst and how people do or don't pick up the pieces when they've been existing in the midst of a living hell has been on my reading list for many years.

It's terribly cheesy but I remember the book catching my eye when I was a teenager for two reasons. First, isn't "Simone de Beauvoir" a great name? I didn't know a thing about her, but I wanted that name. (After all, what teenager doesn't want to change their name at some point?) Second, I'd heard that although it deals with weighty realism and existential questions, parts of it read a bit like a romance novel. I'm a terrible romantic and a morbid realist, even though the combination of those two things just seems impossible.

I've heard that the writing is a bit dry at parts, even though the opening seems fine to me. We'll see. If you've ever read The Mandarins, let me know what you thought of it.


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