on 14 April 2011
I read this novel with a strange mix of emotions. The anti-hero is as unappealing as an anti-hero should be. His character, obsessions and career in Hitler studies do not make it easy to identify with him. However gradually Gass creates a character who is multidimensional and not without sympathetic qualities.
At times the writing is absolutely stunning. At these points I was convinced that this was one of the truly great modern novels, but then there would be longeurs when I just wanted to finish quickly. By the end I was convinced that the novel was one that will haunt me for a very long time. However it is not in the class of William Gaddis, who remains, for me anyway, the exemplary American novelist of the recent past. I am reluctant to say this but I feel that Gass would have benefitted from a more rigorous editor.