Elaine's Reviews > The Lonely Polygamist

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
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Oct 02, 12

bookshelves: 2011
Read from June 17 to 26, 2011

This was the rare occasion when I basically skimmed the last 150 pages just to find out a few key plot points, rather than actually reading, because I was excruciatingly BORED while reading this book. The hero, despite having 4 wives, is completely uninteresting -- a hulking cipher as blank as his improbably shut-in childhood without friends or education. If he had one wife, instead of 4, this tale of a middle-aged schlemiel who has no will, no agency, no real yearnings (other than to get with the charmingly tongue-tied brown-skinned wife of his boss (a walking racist cliche)) would never have been published. Absent polygamy, no one would bother dragging through 600 pages of this book -- the male mid-life crisis of incompetence, loneliness and lust has been done to death by far better writers. It's the titillation of fundamentalist polygamy (how does it really work? is it sexy or sinister?) that makes people pick up this book -- but that gimmick is just that -- a gimmick. None of the wives become more than window dressing and 27 children is 26 more than Udall can even be bothered trying to depict.

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

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Donna So...you began reading a book with the word "polygamist" in the title, when the fact that he had more than one wife was going to be deal-breaker?


Elaine No, not at all, sorry if my review wasn't clear. My point is that polygamy is only a gimmick in the book (actually I did say that quite clearly) and that there is absolutely no effort to make the characters real, interesting, or uncliched. A thoughtful treatment of polygamy by a gifted novelist would have been fascinating.

Out of curiosity, what part of my review made you think the fact of polygamy the "deal breaker"? I want to be clear, but obviously wasn't if you could come away with an impression of my views that was so diametrically the opposite of what I intended to express. Cheers.


Donna Elaine wrote: "No, not at all, sorry if my review wasn't clear. My point is that polygamy is only a gimmick in the book (actually I did say that quite clearly) and that there is absolutely no effort to make the ..."
You are absolutely right. I read and replied too quickly. I mistook your "if he had only one wife" as something that would make him dull but acceptable, but that wasn't where you were going. Apologies.


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