Joe S's Reviews > A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
633622
's review
Jun 27, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: novels
Recommended to Joe by: My father. Who'da thunk?
Read in June, 2008

This book won a Pulitzer back in that day, and that pisses me off. Although, really, I should know better by now. I'm always burned by the Pulitzers.

Based on the rough plot of King Lear, yes, which is objectively the worst of Shakespeare's plays and that should say something. This book is an excellent example of why everyone should leave psychological novels to the Russians and Henry James. Nothing strictly happens, of course, just like in Lear (except there, at least, everyone dies in interesting ways, sort of a British pre-figuring of Rambo -- import ass from Taiwan as cannon fodder and just dream of all the ways you could fuck that chit up). And so Smiley is left with charting the changes of an interior landscape for a first-person narrator (ugh). Three-quarters of the way through, even Smiley realized she'd written 150 pages of some spineless bitch masturbating to her own misery, and had to introduce a "repressed memory" to make it interesting. By then, I'd stopped caring.

Also, the dialogue is hideous. I mean, flat-out direct from all the daydreams an author has about what she'd like to say to her daddy. Trope trope trope.

Is this the definition of a hack? Steal shit from another author and butcher it even more?

Still, three stars. Because toward the end I was struck by how the narrator was utterly trapped in her own existence with no viable means for becoming anything other than the sad bitch she was. And somehow, it still moved me, despite the fact that I knew it was coming. Lydia Davis says a good ending must be both surprising and entirely predictable in retrospect. So I guess the book ended well for me.
9 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Thousand Acres.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Joe (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joe S Eh. I was drunk and thinking Titus Andronicus. But I refuse to amend my first post. I sort of love it now.


message 2: by Chris (new)

Chris "toward the end I was struck by how the narrator was utterly trapped in her own existence with no viable means for becoming anything other than the sad bitch she was. And somehow, it still moved me"

That's solid, but giving it three stars is still what I find so ridiculously funny. Nice.


Kendall couldn't agree more with you re: pulitzer prize, dialogue, the ending, and lydia davis. but, i don't think the book deserved three stars. thanks for your comment!


back to top