Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pesthouse by Jim Crace

Whoa...this book is a trip. I never know what to think when someone says some else's prose is "lyrical" or "hallucinogenic." I only know that this guy is a darn good writer. I'm surprised and not surprised that this book received mixed reviews.

First off, there's that whole "how can a Brit write about America" thing. Well pish-tosh, what Mr. Crace has written isn't just about America. It could have been set in England. Or Germany. Substitute any technologically advanced culture. It works. Eco-disaster? Could happen. Ancient collapsed highways? Already happened in Britain.

Then there's the "it isn't as good as his previous works" argument. I'm just going to brush that one aside. Yes. Blatantly. What is Good? Incredibly dense prose that leads to a morally ambiguous or, preferably, dismal conclusion? Message to Big Newspaper Reviewers: a happy ending can be Good too. And you wonder why the Big Newspapers are jettisoning Book Reviewers?

And now the truth can be known. It isn't as "good" as his previous works because it ends happily and it follows a somewhat predictable path. ...hmmm...happy ending...form-based...Holy Cow! It's Genre!!!!! Oh Mr. Crace, how far you have fallen! You have written a somewhat romantic post-apocalyptic adventure tale!

Out! Out of the Academic Halls of Those Who Know Best!

As you can see, I find most of the negative reviews to be bull-crap. Read the work for its own merits. Apply your own standards. Here are mine:
Does it hold my interest?
Are the characters well-developed?
When scenery must be described is it done vividly?
Does the prose plod away or does it spring to life?
Would a 17 year-old male or female with age-appropriate reading skills be able to read it, be challenged by it, and understand it?

I'm sure I have more standards, but those are 5 of the ones I can think of. A book that a) holds my interest and b)meets 2 of the other standards above is something I might read. The Pesthouse meets all five and then some.

I was pulled into the dystopia and enjoyed it. You may, too.

1 comment:

zirelda said...

I'll go check that out. Sounds good to me.