Friday, March 30, 2018

Strike One, Strike Two . . .

Some books just don't click with particular readers, for various (often personal) reasons.  Two books encountered in succession struck me this way.

First was The Forever War (1974), by Joe Haldeman. Yes, it's a patently obvious contemplation of the Vietnam war, stretched across space.  Yes, it won the Nebula Award in 1975, and the Hugo Award in 1976. And it's well written, but I just found it hard slogging, with themes that do not much interest me, and characters with attitudes that (to me) belong to out past not to our future.

Next came The Gates of Paradise (1960) by George Andrzeyevski.  It was translated from the Polish in 1962 by James Kirkup.  I'd seen the 1968 film of the novel, and found it to be an interesting if exasperating mess, gradually revealing the flaws behind the people who were involved in a religious quest in medieval France. So I thought that perhaps the original source might be better. Alas, it's not, and the film at least has the benefit of eye candy, something lacking in the book.  In fact the book is one of those pointless attempts at being avant garde. Its contrivance is that the entire novel is one long run-on sentence (with a second five word sentence as the final line). The contrivance palls very quickly and it is a struggle with little reward to keep reading on, and on, and on.

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