Sunday, July 25, 2010

He's no David Lee

Last weekend (was it only last weekend? It feels like a month ago), at the used book sale in the big tent, I picked up a novel by Philip Roth, on the recommendation of a couple of males of my acquaintance. You know who you are.

So I dug in on that very night. And it was good. For about 100 pages it was really good.

So here's my problem. In the first excellent part of the book, topical 90's stuff happens. But in the second part, Roth reveals that one of the main characters has a Big Secret. And he tells us what the Big Secret is. Once I had been given all the background of the Big Secret, I started to lose interest in the book.

Then, Roth, or more precisely the narrator, tells us that two of the main characters are now dead, and they are going to die soon in the narrative. I think at this point I am supposed to keep reading to find out how and why they die. But truth is, I don't care. How did this happen? Why have I stopped caring? It's weird, and I can't explain it.

This afternoon I struggled through a long set piece about a deranged Vietnam Veteran's therapy session at a Chinese restaurant. Since I care about this character even less than the main ones, I ended up skipping the last two pages of this part.

And the main female character is totally unbelievable. I cannot for a minute believe a woman like this exists. And, even though Roth repeatedly describes her as pretty physically unattractive, gaunt, weather-beaten, stringy-haired, etc., he still needs to point out her Surprisingly Big Boobs.

Oh, Phil, you're such a guy. Get over the big boobs, already.

I'm going to try to finish the book, but unless I can get back to caring about somebody, anybody, in it, it will be tough going.

7 comments:

cityofmushrooms said...

this was me reading michael ondaatje's totally annoying and absolutely over rated "divisadero"--I was determined to finish it even though I wanted to throw it across the room more than once

also horrible, blank-voiced women (probably w/big boobs tho I don't remember) who you couldn't tell apart and like a woody allen movie--everyone talks the same (like witty woody)

cityofmushrooms said...

ps and there really IS only one diamond dave

Anonymous said...

Those 2 pages in the Chinese restaurant were KEY. Had you not skipped them, it all would have made sense.

Anonymous said...

I’m not so sure that I want believable characters in novels…

JD

Nanuk of the North, the Mastermind behind [blank] said...

I read quite a bit more last night. Now I think the moral of the story is "bad things happen to buxom poor women who perform o r a l s e x on old men". The End.

But I could be wrong. There's a lot more to read...

Anonymous said...

Mmm – I guess I mistakenly assumed it was about race relations … I stand corrected!

JD

Anonymous said...

If we're talking about The Human Stain -- are we? -- I have to ask if you've seen the movie. Hilariously miscast, but the way Sir Tony says "spoooks" is better than half of everything else actors have ever done.