Okay, enough goofin' around. I'm almost finished with The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, and I'm finding it awfully useful.
In the final fifth or so of the book, the protagonist Anna starts a crazy affair with a guy named Saul. Saul seems to have a fragmented personality; he shifts abruptly from one mode of engaging the world to another, and Anna never knows if he's going to be the thoughtful and kind man she loves, a hectoring jerk, a compulsively lying sleazebag... and the aspects of his personality don't flow together naturally; it's like they're distinct persons functioning in one body. This concept isn't unfamiliar; fragmented or split personality is a bit of a chestnut nowadays. But it's one thing to understand a problem at a conceptual level; it's another thing to understand how it plays out, day by day, hour by hour. Lessing does a splendid job of describing what it's like to live with such a person, and leads us to understand the variable ways these personality fragments can manifest, one after the other, in dizzying sequence.
This is useful because I'm rehearsing a show in which I play a character who makes some really, really abrupt transitions, and I find it difficult. I guess I make more gradual emotional transitions. Lessing has almost written an instruction manual in portraying out-of-control fragmented personalities.
I have many more thoughts on this book, or thoughts which have been triggered by this book, but I'll need to get back to it later.