We took our iPod along for the ride. We loaded it with 700 of our favorite songs, we selected the "random" option, and we let fate choose our music, Diana Krall followed by Mavis Staples followed by Waylon Jennings. We also downloaded some non-music: Adam Gopnik at the Commonwealth Club, David Sedaris at Carnegie Hall and, because we knew we'd never read it any other way, "The Brothers Karamazov."
"The B.K." is a very long book -- Dostoevsky never uses one adverb when three will do -- and is interspersed with long speeches about the existence of God and the meaning of consciousness. My mind tended to wander in the soft hum of the highway, so sometimes I was confused as to who was speaking to whom. The book is about the activities of about 10 people in the same Russian town, so there aren't a lot of signposts for the inattentive listener. Still, I was liking it.
"Isn't it interesting," I said to Tracy, "how experimental this seems for a 19th century novel? Notice how everyone talks about Dimitri, but we never actually see him."
It was not until Pennsylvania that we realized that we had neglected to turn off the "random" feature of the iPod, so we were getting chapters in arbitrary order, the plot entirely in the mischievous hands of fate.
We loved the part at the beginning, where everybody died.