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Thinks . . . Paperback – 1 Sep 2002
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A smart, seductive novel of ideas...Lodge is at the top of his game. (The Atlantic Monthly)
About the Author
David Lodge is the author of twelve novels and a novella, including the Booker Prize finalists Small World and Nice Work. He is also the author of many works of literary criticism, including The Art of Fiction and Consciousness and the Novel.
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Nothing outstanding, but if it's the only unread book left on your shelf, it's worth picking up.
As the work, it has everything to be a fantastic book: interesting characters, a good plot, at least at the beginning, smart dialogues and a lot of promises. However, David Lodge seems to be so clever that his book becomes nothing else than an unbearable and pretentious big pain in the ass
The story here takes place at the imaginary university of Gloucester, situated between Gloucester and Cheltenham on a rather bleak and barren sounding greenfield site, surprising as this area is well known for being decorative.
The main protagonist is Professor of Cognitive Science Ralph Messenger, who appears highly sexed and spends much of his time pursing Helen, a temporary lecturer in Creative writing.
One learns a lot about the then state of Artificial Intelligence and Lodge must have done a lot of research for the book, which is a fascinating and relatively painless glimpse into this subject.
Through his characters he has amusing pops at various aunt sallies, such as the appalling food in Prague, the Catholic Church, American universities, and some of his uni colleagues.
Essentially, the topic of the book is academic romance, but here the narration follows two first-persons, one of them in rather boring stream-of-consciousness style, and a third person to narrate the encounters between them, rather long dialogues centered on consciousness, the mind an cognitive science studies, which might be amusing for a while, but eventually they are neither educative nor really fun.
Eventually, a review says more about the expectations of the reader than about the book itself. This book is probably OK if it's your first David Lodge, or if you're really into the English academic life. But Small World is far funnier by a stretch, so it would by my first choice for the author.
This is nothing like that.
"Thinks" has the usual culprits - the pastiches of other writers (some of which are very clever) - the usual "o tempora, o mores" comment on modern times - and some characters from other books make fleeting re-appearances.
HOWEVER, for some bizarre reason - possibly to try to make himself appear more contemporary, or more relevant,- there are sexual passages and indeed details included which, not that terribly long ago, would have seen this dismissed as pornography masquerading as decent writing.
What a truly crushing disappointment for someone who thought "Nice Work" was a small masterpiece!
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