Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bernard Cornwell - feh!, V.S. Naipaul - double feh!

I finished reading "Redcoat" a week or so ago and just realized I haven't commented on it. It's too blah to comment on beyond saying that Cornwell's Sharpe novels are much much better. It may be that Cornwell was just lazy, or it may just be that the American Revolutionary War is boring, boring, boring. I'm glad those bewigged fellows did it but I'm never going to read about it again.

So, reeling in horror from "Redcoat," I picked up V.S. Naipaul's book "The Enigma Of Arrival" only to find myself plunged into the sort of introspective mess which clearly appeals to some people but which makes me rabid. Naipaul, whose book "The Bend in the River" I very much enjoyed, Naipaul proceeds to take his very interesting life story and make it terminally boring by examining it in such detail and confusing it with so many flashbacks and forward leaps that after about a hundred pages I was hoping he would be set upon by a frenzied fox and then be run over by a horn blowing pack of pursuing fox hunters. I was only half way through when I put it down to pick up "Sharpe's Escape" to prove to myself that Cornwell hadn't gone senile or something before he wrote "Redcoat" - he hadn't.

One of those old philosopher dudes is famous for saying 'the unexamined life isn't worth living.' Whole packs of dull thinkers have made livings out of approvingly discussing that saying over the millenia. Well I'm here to tell you that the overexamined life should be ended by a rabid fox and then be trampled into the flinty earth of the English countryside by the thundering hooves of a pack of overbred horses.

What made the Naipaul book doubly annoying - no, triply annoying - is that my copy, bought used at Wolfgang Books down in Phoenixville, is endlessly underlined and annotated by the sort of prissy over analytical English Literature student who should himself be crept up on by mangy canids with little flecks of white foam dripping from their slavering jaws.

I can well understand why the other Greeks, the ones with good practical common sense, made that Socrates guy drink the Hemlock which worked so slow that they had to listen to him drone on and on for hours before he finally stopped. There probably wasn't a rabid fox handy at the time. Nature red in tooth and claw has a lot to recommend it.

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