Saturday, February 23, 2019

Minority report …

… The Puppet Master | B.D. McClay. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For the reader of the book, who can name the power that pushes Maxley hither and thither—i.e., John Williams—the suddenness which with things just happen can grate. On the first seven pages of Nothing But the Night, I counted seven “suddenly”s. To be fair, those pages recount a dream, in which things do tend to happen, well, suddenly. But after Maxley awakens and leaves his apartment to go out to a park, “quite suddenly, he knew that he would not go into the park.” He goes instead to a café, where “all at once he discovered he was becoming depressed,” and then walks back home, where his apartment building appears “so suddenly that he swerved in sharp surprise.” A thought comes to him “suddenly with an almost physical blow”; he understands things “with a sudden and rather amused clarity.” Two pages later, he is “suddenly ashamed.” Things happen suddenly in Stoner at least forty times; in Butcher’s Crossing, fifty-three.
Can anything happen to a person quite so suddenly quite so much? 
Well, actually, yes, even in life, though certainly in fiction, which is a take on life, not a reproduction of it. I haven't rad any of Williams's novels, though I have Stoner lying around somewhere and should read it, if for no other reason that I hear so much about it. Most of what I have heard is positive, though it's always nice to read a dissenting opinion. Guess I'll have to find out for myself.

1 comment:

  1. Williams must have kept the manuscript filed away for forty years or so. In his judgment, then, it wasn't worth publishing. Why publish it now?

    By the way, I recommend starting with Augustus.