the lacuna, by barbara kingsolver

November 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Neutered homosexual is party to most of the tumultuous historical events of the early 20th century. Frida Kahlo is a magical pixie dream girl, boarish Diego Rivera drinks to excess and hosts swinging Communist parties at his digs, and Leon Trotsky the keeper-of-chickens is a heroic martyr but not otherwise discernable as a human being. Due to being entirely passive and afraid of life and people, the author stand-in does not do anything for most of the novel but stand by and record the riot of activity on-going about him. Grey personage is redeemed by his tearful amanuensis for having “lived through his words”, or some such nonsense (see also: A.S. Byatt’s more convincing explication of the same in her story collection, Elementals). Ending, telegraphed about twenty pages ahead, made me chortle cynically. One more book added to my to-donate pile.

Despite all this it was enjoyable in the reading. Kingsolver is a skilled writer of sentences, so she makes it worth your while roughly half the time. But am now extremely leery of trying Prodigal Summer or The Poisonwood Bible, despite owning a copy of the latter.

After an extensive investigation I can safely say that 95% of the stuff published within the last ten (fifteen? twenty?) years is trumped up horseshit. Harrrumph. I should stop reading contemporary literature and tackle my storehouse of Dumas/Patrick O’Brian/George Eliot/Ursula Leguin/Alexander Durrell/Rebecca West.

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