Top critical review
Surprisingly badly written book
on 17 June 2016
I managed to get to page 154 before giving up on this - and giving up on a book is something I rarely do. What amazes me is that this is a Pulitzer Prize winner and yet it isn't a well written book. Standards in writing seem to have slipped badly over the years, to the point that anything seems acceptable now. The art of writing third person tales is in describing events and allowing the reader to discern what the characters' motives are. Most writers would have a central protagonist, and we are privy to his/her thoughts. What Mr McMurtry does is flip from character to character, telling us what everyone is thinking, even minor characters. Most of these "thoughts" amount to back story - so we are derailed from the central narrative over and over again while he fills us in about some previous detail of the character's life. It amounts to expositional chatter which I for one found, as well as being highly unskilled, incredibly irritating. I recently read a Booker Prize winner (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) which did the same thing - even going to the extent of telling us what was in a character's mind up to the point when he was executed. A friend's father once told of a story in which a character dreams he is being beheaded. While he sleeps a friend simulates a rabbit chop to the back of his neck and the sleeping man dies of fright. If a sleeping man dies, how can we know what he was thinking? In essence these writers superimpose themselves on their writing, as if they are God and privy to all knowledge of everyone. For me it is a sad indictment of the quality of much literature today and, even worse, on the people who read it.