Dhalgren

by Samuel R. Delany (1974)

4/10

After two and a half weeks I got to page 280. It was boring and bloated enough that I decided to check the plot synopsis before continuing, just to see if anything actually happens. Upon seeing that not much does, I’m going to go ahead and leave it. There was far too little sci-fi adventure and far too much literary bloviating to maintain my interest.

I’m not going to come out and state that this is a bad book, because the truth is it’s just not at all what I was expecting. But with this project at least, Delany’s writing skill strikes me as quite inferior to his literary ambition, and certain sequences and details are unforgivably extended (e.g., most of Kidd’s time with the Andersons; the psychoanalysis of each character’s dialogue and facial expressions; and listing in painstaking detail every movement of his obnoxious notebook).

If I had come to this expecting an arduous, Joyce-ian literary odyssey I probably would have liked it a lot more, though I’m still skeptical that Delany’s ability justifies such a thorough reading. Then again, if I had known this about the book I definitely wouldn’t have picked it up any time soon because I’ve never had a desire to suffer through experience Joyce.

 

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