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a lovely mishmash of opinions interspersed with moments of clarity and vision by a vegan lesbian feminist mystery-loving, history-loving reader and writer.


Currently reading

The More I Owe You: A Novel
Michael Sledge
The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World without Losing Your Way
Hillary Rettig
Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire
Catriolina Mortimer-Sandilands, Bruce Erickson
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America (Between Men--Between Women)
Lillian Faderman
The Healing Earth
Philip Sutton Chard
Revolt and Crisis in Greece: Between a Present Yet to Pass and a Future Still to Come
Dimitris Dalakoglou, Antonis Vradis

All the King's Men

All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren This was required reading for a class so I expected to hate it, but it was actually quite good.

The racism was really difficult to take. The book takes place in 1930s Louisiana, so that racism is there isn't surprising. But the main character, Jack, who narrates the story, throws the n-word around with some frequency; it makes him a lot less sympathetic than he might be. The depiction of the (very minor) black characters is also hard to take, and I don't know, of course,whether that's intentional in terms of Warren's characterization of Jack or whether Warren himself just spoke like that.

The book dragged a bit in the last third.

The way Warren weaves about three different stories into one is impressive, and he moves fairly seamlessly between past and present, taking us at one point back into the Civil War era. It's the kind of thing you read and think, "If I took this into a writing group or class, I would probably be questioned as to the relevance of these many pages of seemingly irrelevant information." Well, you might not think it exactly that way, but still. In fact there is little relevance to the Civil War era story but it is actually very interesting.

Some of Warren's writing too is so poetic. I've read and been told to never use adverbs or adjectives in my writing, but I think if you don't overdo it there is a good use for them. The rights words, no matter what they are, can add to the depth and experience of a story.
"But sitting there in the study, with the damp, sweet-heavy night air coming in through the windows..."

"It was a very calm, clear night with scarcely a sibilance from the water on the shingle of the beach, and the bay was bright under the stars."

There are more, of course, some better ones, but I can't find them at the moment.

The characters run the spectrum from sympathetic to people you'd just like to run over with a steamroller, and Jack is not the most sympathetic in the bunch, but he's sympathetic enough to not be totally disgusted by him.

It's hard to read books written a while back that are freely racist and sexist, and I find it problematic to actually like some of them, but I find I do. I could look at it from an historical perspective, I suppose, but it doesn't make it easy.

In any case, this book has things to recommend it and things to not recommend it. I think I would recommend it with some reservation.