Olivia's Reviews > Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World

Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World by Donald Antrim
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's review
Oct 03, 2010

liked it

This book was given to me by a friend at work, and it is very strange. I will not put in a spoiler, but I was shocked by the end of the book, and it left me wondering whether it is actually very good. I think it is actually an extremely intelligent book, and cynically honest about human nature. But it is very, very weird.

The thing that is genius about this book is that it makes you like the main character, despite the fact that he is clearly unhinged and does terrible things. I am not sure anyone I've ever read has been more effective at that than this.

I can't actually say much more than that because I am still mulling it over. The impression I have is one similar to when I and my boyfriend hang out with another couple, whose relationship seems founded on principles that belong in another universe - who we would ordinarily think should break up or never have gotten together, or who have extremely weird dynamics. You wonder if you are human, or if they are, because it seems incomprehensible that both couples could be human. But you recognise a tiny bit of yourself as well - enough to make it worth figuring out, thinking about, discussing endlessly. Even if you never figure it out.

I only gave it three stars because I didn't LOVE the book, but I think it is very intelligent and probably very very good.

"I have to admit, I kind of like Tom. His politics are unsophisticated but his heart's in the right place." (91)

"Wasn't our relationship (marriage) founded on care and the veneration of intimacy and fidelity? Hadn't I violated this? What could be worse, in a close sexual relationship, than showing yourself to be a different species than your mate?" (101)

"Was this something I could reasonably do? Throw a book at potential oblivion? ... These books were valuable. Maybe not the Roget's. I generally warn the kids away from the thesaurus because I believe they become reliant on it, when they should be working to build their own vocabularies through memorization. The Roget's Thesaurus could, in all fairness, go." (124-5)

"Of course I left behind the thesaurus, which I honestly consider pernicious." (132)

"Consider the martyrs. Here was my punishment: a hundred herbal lashes across the wrists and forearms for delivering literature out of the wilderness." (133)

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