Eric Phetteplace's Reviews > The Sot-Weed Factor

The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth
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's review
Nov 30, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: prose
Read from June 24 to July 22, 2011

I admit it: I stopped with about 200 pages to go. It's too long and I think it's silly to finish a book just for the feeling of finality, rather than actually wanting to.
The Sot-Weed Factor is an amusing book but not much else. The jokes are funny, if often crude, but the characters are fairly shallow and their traits get repeated again and again. I laughed out loud; I did not feel any empathy. Barthes' constant re-tellings of prior events, the same characters showing up in different guises over and over, really wore me down. It's an enjoyable book but I have better things to do than finish it off.

As an aside: I find it sort of strange that the epic novels of the 20th century (from Ulysses up to Infinite Jest) are comedies. I guess I suffer from this assumption that epic, lengthy works necessarily must be very serious and being very serious is mutually exclusive with comedy. In any case, I'll take a hilarious epic over a work that takes itself too seriously any day.
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