Friday, October 05, 2007

Book: The River Why

The first two chapters concerned no subject other than fishing. With a sigh I announced to Steve-o that should the next chapter concern only the subject of fishing I would abandon the novel.

And it did.

But given that two very decent friends had endorsed the book as well as the technically superior writing talent so far displayed - meaning David James Duncan is an expert wordsmith; actual storytelling prowess is another, more delicate matter - I granted it one more chance and tackled another chapter.

Duncan's ability to entertain through biting humor and cynicism seemed his strong point; strength not easily played to in the subtle show-don't-tell superior writing style. So I forgave him his unfortunate but appropriate tell-don't-show style choice and settled in, resigned to enjoying the laughs and the rather pedestrian wisdom while remaining on the outside, looking in.

The writing is intelligent without needing to prove itself such with verbose complexity. Except that the vocabulary is deep. I needed a dictionary handy.

The early content, insightful but without profundity, had me making assumptions about the author's depth of character, but which in hindsight I should have only been making about the hero's depth of character. For the narrator's voice began to migrate - not acquiring greater wisdom concerning the absurdities he earlier spurned too aggressively, but rather drifting into a philosophical state, exploring mystic and spiritual ideas.

So perhaps the work, all centered upon one man's river-bound existence, is - if not entirely fiction - an allegory. A condensation of the author's intellectual evolution - or even that of a society. But I find allegory tiresome to consider, so arbitrary and manipulable and prone to treachery it is.

There are numerable references to smoking at key moments so I'm tempted to write off the work as the musings of a doper who reads too much spiritualism into his trips.

But I do recommend the book. If you're open to any mysticism whatsoever, be it gods, ghosts, psychic activity, reincarnation, energy transference - you name it - i.e. if you're almost anyone on the planet but me - you'll find many useful ideas here presented intelligently and with laudable objectivity.

But if you're currently demanding a novel of subtlety in which you can participate and be transported, this isn't quite it.


Anonymous said...

transportation is BIG for me.

Dave said...

"I granted it one more chance and tackled another chapter." said tackled. And it was about fishing. I guess you were hooked. bwahahaha

Claudia said...

Heh!good one ;)

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

Me too, Claudia.

{Sigh} Dave, you're evil and you must be stopped. The tackle pun was unintentional.