Amelia's Reviews > The Floating Opera and The End of the Road

The Floating Opera and The End of the Road by John Barth
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's review
Aug 13, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: law-and-lit
Read in September, 2011

This pertains only to the first novel in the book, "The Floating Opera." (The other I haven't read, yet.) Though the speaker professes that his aim in writing the book is to chronologically tell the events of one day when he "changed his mind," he actually often jumps around in time to other significant days in his life to attempt to raise or explain a specific idea or event. This is an interesting book and essentially post-modernist (concerned as it is with narrative, manipulation of form and language, and playing with literary conventions) and the Fourth Wall is habitually broken by the narrator, in an attempt to engage-- and perhaps also manipulate-- the reader.

The narrator, Todd Andrews, is almost a perfect representation of the prototypical portrayal of a lawyer in popular culture-- he's logical to the point of disconnect with most peoples' thought processes, arguably nihilistic, and assuredly narcissistic. Barth does manage to bring some sympathy to his character, however-- Andrews refuses to admit it, but his disconnection has been engineered by a number of traumatic events in his life, and his nihilism is ultimately a way to deal with all this tragedy and uncertainty. His final attempted act of nihilism definitely isn't one to emulate, and there's no doubt that he's a bit of a selfish bastard, but he's at least an interesting, flawed character.

An interesting novel, but not necessarily one I think I'll desperately want to re-read.

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