Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Dance...

Still reading Dance to the Music of Time, though the end of the first movement is finally within sight... (as in within 120 or so pages). I've been reading this book since the beginning of December, so the thought of being able to finish is a good feeling. I'll be taking a break from the series in March, to pick up the second movement in April...I want to be able to dedicate myself fully to Wings of the Dove :-) Now that I'm almost half way through the third novel in the Dance series (The Acceptance World), the characters from the first two novels are starting to reappear. In less than 25 pages, there were two instances of Nick saying, "She looks familiar. Oh yes, now I remember. She is so-and-so that I met at a party a number of years ago." Though I understand that characters had to be reintroduced in this manner due to the books publishing history (as a series of individual novels over a number of years), it's becoming annoying. And I never thought that I would say this, but I'm tired of his use of commas. He combines about eight different ideas and side notes in one sentence, all with the use of commas. Just give me a couple extra sentences instead, damn it. It wouldn't kill you. Maybe Powell should have read McCarthy and taken a cue or two from his writing style.

And it kind of bothers me that I know all about what everyone else is doing, but Nick doesn't really tell us much about himself, or what he's been up to. Here's a case in point: Nick's love life. I had read in a summary about Book 2 that Nick loses his virginity to Gypsy Jones after Deacon's funeral. Ok, so there is Gypsy and Nick, and there's dialog, and they're kind of lounging on a couch...and then Nick leaves and goes to Widmerpool's (who, by the way, had recently knocked Gypsy up and was annoyed he had to pay for her abortion). So, I thought, Gyspy and Nick must get together after his dinner with Widmerpool. But then the book was over. What? I went back and re-read the scene between Nick and Gypsy. This was all there was to indicate what had gone on: ..."At least such protests as she put forward were of so formal and artificial an order that they increased, rather than diminised, the impression that a long-established rite was to be enacted...Each product of that slow process of building up of events...coming at last to a head. ..I could not help admitting, in due course, the awareness of a sense of inadequacy. There was no specific suggestion that anything had, as it might be said, "gone wrong"; it was merely that any wish to remain any longer present in those surroundings had suddenly and violently decreased, if not disappeared entirely..." Yup...that's about it. Was I supposed to pick up on that? Because I didn't. He has similarly glossed over the beginning of his affair with Jean Templer.

I'm also approaching the end of Sister Carrie. It's an ok book, I suppose...I'm kind of indifferent. I don't particularly like it, as in it's not a book I would probably seek out again, but I don't despise it either. The plot moves along and there is a host of despicable characters that I don't care for or about. I can clearly, in this novel, see the difference between a VERY good novel with despicable characters (Vanity Fair), and a mediocre novel with despicable characters (Sister Carrie). In Vanity Fair, I felt involved with the characters. I wanted them to get what they deserved. But in Sister Carrie, I really don't care.


Jules Aimé said...

Are you sure that Widmerpool get's Gypsy pregnant? As I remember it, and now I'm going to have to back and look it up, there are hints that she is already pregnant before she meets Widmerpool.

Kristin said...

Yes- Widmerpool is just the sucker who paid, but I didn't catch that at first. I assumed that it was his problem since he told Nick that he was "very indiscreet" in the affair...which I orginallt took to mean that he wasn't careful. But she was pregnant when they got together...or maybe got together. Later statements by Widmerpool regarding Mildred left Nick to wonder if Widmerpool's" love affairs had always fallen short of physical attack." Which would mean he was never physically involved with Gypsy to begin with.