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Too many words, Mr Roth.
on 22 November 2016
This, to my mind, is a poor novel.
The prose, of course, is brilliant. The empathy with all the characters is unsurpassed. The plot is tolerably good.
And I concede that were I American, coloured,or Jewish, I might think otherwise of the novel's merit.
I am none of those and well before the end I felt as though I were being sandbagged when I prefer to be rapiered. There is just too much. No avenue is unexplored in profound but unnecessary detail. There is no momentum. Half as long would have been twice as good.
Furthermore, there were absurdities in the story. The protagonist's explaining away of possible (probable?) genetic consequences was feeble. The French philosopher's episode with the personal ad was preposterous. Yet both were vital to the plot.
We're I a quitter, I would have quit about half way through.