This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. I can understand why it did so - it portrays the life of a young man, dissatisfied with his upbringing and hThis book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. I can understand why it did so - it portrays the life of a young man, dissatisfied with his upbringing and his prospects (or, as he sees it, his lack of prospects for 'doing anything worthwhile), who finds purpose when becoming engaged in the First World War. The blurb on this book states that the author 'creates a canny and extraordinarily vital portrait of an American psyche at once skeptical and romantic, restless and heroic', and it seems to me that this is how Americans like to view themselves. Thus the impact of this novel would have been very strong, and I assume it remains published for that reason.
Myself, I found it too slow, and I didn't find enough empathy for the young man to continue past the first fifth of the book....more
Yolanda and Verla meet in a kind of waiting room, waiting to have their heads shorn and to be incarcerated in sheds akin to dog kennels. They discoverYolanda and Verla meet in a kind of waiting room, waiting to have their heads shorn and to be incarcerated in sheds akin to dog kennels. They discover themselves to be in a group of young women, all imprisoned in a farm sized compound surrounded by an electric fence. They eventually figure out why, and they have to learn to survive their 3 brutal guards, etc.
Our default position about people with Alzheimer's is one of pity, and so it should be - no matter what a person may have done in his or her life, noOur default position about people with Alzheimer's is one of pity, and so it should be - no matter what a person may have done in his or her life, no matter how abrasive or even perhaps evil a person may have been, the stripping away of rationality is a fearful thing and we should wish it on nobody. But compassion for a person doesn't mean we need look at them through rose-coloured glasses. The Alzheimer's sufferer may have been a lovely person, then again he or she may not have been. And if lovely people can become physically and verbally abusive as a result of the disease, how much more might a previously unpleasant person become? And as the inhibitions are eroded, what secrets might be displayed?
This crime novel is built on the confusion of a 49-year-old man, previously a popular published crime writer, with early onset Alzheimer's. Did he or did he not kill the young woman 30 years ago - a crime he keeps confessing to? He remembers it so clearly, yet can't remember what happened yesterday when he was found in the library after escaping from the home and walking the 15 kilometres into town (I may have the figure wrong, but it wasn't a short walk).
We are taken backwards and forwards in time from the present day occurences, which is told in the present tense, to the journal he was encouraged to write and which he wrote as if telling his future self about his thoughts and feelings, and which is written in the second person - "You shook a lot of hands ...", "You don't know what's going on ...". I like this construct - it really worked for me as a reader.
And we're privy to the confusion and the gradual degradation, with the alarming times of complete lucidity that are still surrounded in confusion because he's sure he's not the sort of person to do what he appears to have done! Because there are more murders happening and he is a prime suspect.....