the archives

dusted off in read-only


posted 22 Feb 2006, 20:02 by rossb, Commoner

I recently got around to reading the Shadow of the Torturer and the Claw of the Conciliator, having been intending to do so for many years. I am not generally put off by "difficult" books provided the rewards are worthwhile. Wolfe is certainly a difficult writer, but I did not feel in this case - for me - the rewards justified the effort of reading it. In fact, if the books were not so highly regarded by so many people whose opinion I respect, I would probably have dismissed them outright as nothing more than someone's recollection of a 70s LSD induced trip, best forgotten rather than described as serious writing. I certainly didn't feel that the strength of these books was characterisation, description, the ability to turn an elegant sentence or any of the other "normal" characteristics of "great" writing. I do recognise that there was some hidden meanings and secret things embedded in the novel, but really there must be more to it than that. A great novel must be more than a cryptic crossword puzzle. In my experience, you either like a novel or you don't. or you at least appreciate it or not, but it is not generally possible to persuade someone to like a book just by explaining what is good about it. (There are some exceptions to this, of course, and we have all had experiences of coming back to something we did not, on a first reading, understand or appreciate, and then enjoying and understanding and wondering why we had so much trouble the first time.) Nevertheless, I would be interested to know what it is about Wolfe that so engages other people. view post


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