REVIEW: The Good Soldier

Oof. Disjointed. Meandering. Whiny.
The above were my notes on Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier. Clearly we are in for a glowing review…
The Good Soldier begins with the famous line “This is the saddest story I have ever heard,” and yes, the story relayed to us by John Dowell is certainly tragic, what is even more sad is the writing.
Ford jumps back and forth on an arbitrary timeline that doesn’t serve anyone – not the reader, nor the characters. Though a well-developed plot at its core, and an examination of the muddy truth behind appearances, The Good Soldier is so disjointed, and Dowell so obnoxiously arrogant in his tower of innocence and victimhood, it detracts from the heart of the novel.
It is beyond me as to why The Good Soldier continuously stays on multiple lists of “best novels.” 
Rating: 2.5 Bad hearts

 

Advertisements

REVIEW: Rabbit, Run

John Updike, you’ve left me utterly confused.  Rabbit, Run was one of my “this book (and its sequels) is on every MUST READ BEFORE YOU DIE list so I should probs check it out” books. And it was one I was looking forward to reading – seemed to be my cup of tea from what I knew about it. And, while I was reading it continued to feel that way. Then I put the book down. And now I don’t know what to think about anything.

I read Rabbit, Run in one day. Obviously I was invested, and Updike just as obviously writes with a unique and engaging literary style. But my first thought when completing the novel was “I freakin hate that guy” (full disclosure, that sentence contained more “F” bombs than just the one and of the non “freakin” variety). Now, when I say “that guy” I mean our anti-hero, Rabbit, not Mr. Updike. And when I say “hate” I don’t mean in the fun way we love to hate anti-heroes (what up, Don Draper) or a solid villain, I mean I hate him. He has zero redeemable qualities, there was maybe one moment where I thought “okay, maybe you aren’t THAT bad.” However, I never once rooted for him to turn it around, nor did I care if he did. Pretty much, zero part of me cares about the future of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom. And zero part of me understands how there are 5 million other books about this jerk, and why I am expected to read them if I am to be considered well read.

So, now what am I supposed to do? I can’t sit here and say I got zero pleasure from the book and denounce John Updike’s ability to write a clear and intriguing story, but I don’t want to applaud the creation of one of the worst characters I’ve ever come across. Honestly, I would take a slew of Ayn Rand’s horrible creatures over this dude.

Read this book. Or don’t. I certainly won’t be continuing the series, unless it’s to be able to feel further justified in my attitude towards the man. On a positive note, I was very into the supporting female characters and would happily read a novel or two based solely around the character of Ruth.

 

Rating: 2.5 Entitled Bros