The Perks of Being a Wallflower is often heralded as the Catcher in the Rye of our generation. It's a cult classic among teenagers, and with the movie adaptation - written and directed by the author himself! - coming out this fall (starring the ever-wonderful Emma Watson), I thought I'd re-read it as a refresher before seeing the film! If anything, I liked it even more the second time around, with a few more years and experiences under my belt. Charlie's voice is simple and authentic, hovering alternatively somewhere between naive and jaded. He thinks just a little too much about the world around him, which causes him problems as a person but makes him a wonderful, perceptive narrator. Most adolescents (and adults thinking back on their adolescence!) will identify with some experience or feeling throughout the book, and that's what has earned it such a large and passionate following. The movie has been described as "nostalgic" and "life-affirming" and these two adjectives apply to the book as well. In keeping with my new blog initiative, I have written another poem for Perks (as it is affectionately called by fans). The most famous line from the book goes, "And in that moment, I swear we were infinite," and I couldn't help but take that as part of my inspiration.
There's a certain infinite quality
of the still lives immortalized
in photography; messy sprawling
jumbled relationships distilled
into their purest moments -
those clear, copacetic moments
when your soul is rushing soaring
swooping, buffeted by the tumult
of the nonstop motion of the world
spinning and lives living, yet somehow
despite the chaos, you trust this moment enough
to surrender to it, and in surrender
a stillness wells within your soul, a quiet calmness
that spreds throughout your body
and fills your heart
"I feel infinite."
There's a certain wistful quality
to happy memories preserved
in old photographs that makes me wish
I could live in infinite observation
of the moments they contain.
A wallflower - if you will - a witness
there to watch, to remember, to participate,
and when we're old or sad or we start to forget
those moments when we were together
and young and oh-so-alive,
it will be my privilege to remind us,
"We were there. We were happy.
And we were infinite."