[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
After a few occasions when I felt disinclined to pick up Free Fall again, I finished it...or, at least, came to the point where it stops. It doesn't end, it isn't resolved, it just...stops. A flawed but interesting work, a work that convinces so powerfully that it's almost impossible not to equate the narrator, Sammy Mountjoy, with Golding himself. The narrator is that real. It is like stepping inside someone's head--not a very nice someone, at times, but a vital, living, thinking, breathing someone.

The point at which I became disenchanted with the book was the narrator's naivete about? inability (refusal?) to understand why Beatrice, a nice Catholic girl, doesn't want to have sex with him. I mean, come on? Even if the young Sammy was unaware of the consequences for her of sex outside marriage--and, worse, pregnancy outside marriage--surely the older Sammy would be wiser? And the young Sammy is clearly aware that pregnancy is an issue, for he comments on how Beatrice uses a symbol in her letters to indicate that she's got her period. The whole 'oh I can't understand it' comes across as either wilful or obtuse, and it's downright insulting, really. Then, having pretty much created their relationship out of his own fantasy, he discovers that the poor young woman can't possibly live up to it, and jilts her in the most cruel and cowardly fashion. But what else could I have done? he whines.

It's masterful writing, but not comfortable reading.

Well worth a read, though, if you're prepared for the sudden rushes of hate and the strong desire to throw the book (in the absence of its narrator) against the wall.

In other news, still reading the Tomalin biography of Dickens. He's behaving pretty badly to a woman, too. Two women, perhaps, depending on how Ellen Ternan feels about him pursuing her. The pictures have started falling out of my copy, which is damn annoying.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
Started William Golding's Free Fall. It seems to be an evocation of childhood book so far, although I suppose it may turn into coming-of-age eventually. I know absolutely nothing about it going in, so I'll have to find out as I go along. A looking-back book, anyway, in the style of David Copperfield and The Go-Between, although where Dickens muses and Hartley reflects, Golding asserts.

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