it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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Book #36, Dhalgren

Book # 36, Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren

This is one of those books that I can respect, but I cannot love. It does much, complexly--so much that it's a very difficult book for me to talk about in any sensible fashion. In part, because I'm not smart enough to understand it; in part, because I'm the wrong generation and I suspect the wrong gender for it; in part because there's so much going on here that it's difficult to manage the information.

Dhalgren is a vast, ponderous, difficult book (800 pages in this particular edition). It's nonlinear, grotesque, impressionistic. Not overly concerned with plot or narrative or arc or any of those artificial constructs that we lesser writers use to hold a book together. And I don't particularly like it much.

I'm impressed by it--impressed by its allegories; by its front-and-center discussion of race, sexuality, class, religion, and politics; by its unwillingness to pick sides; by its craftsmanship; by its layers. It's a book seen through the haze of its own smoke, without meaningful signposts. Much like the city of Bellona. I'm impressed by its unwillingness to explain itself, and the way it skips like a stone across the waters of its own creation.

And yet, my overwhelming sense upon finishing it is relief. Much like improv jazz I'm impressed by the virtuoso skill it takes to pull this off, but I am not somebody who can learn to dance to it.

Now I just have to decide if I'm going to read silme's copy of Grace Tiffany's Will, which I skimmed a bit yesterday. It looks to be beautifully written, but I'm not sure I can handle her Elizabethan characters pulling coins out of their pockets, and so on.

Tags: 52 book challenge

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