Saturday, September 1, 2007
Modern Library's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century Quest: #99
Title: The Ginger Man
Author: J. P. Donleavy
Judgin' the Book By Its Cover: I kind of like the cover art... it's subtle, yet manages to convey a lot, plus, it's 10,000 times better than this cover.
Thoughts: I was unfamiliar with both the book and the author before I encountered the Modern Library list, so I didn't really know what to expect. Donleavy employs a strange combination of first and third person narration, often switching between the two mid-paragraph. This technique, although jarring at first, works pretty well in the novel-- the hero, Sebastian Dangerfield, behaves despicably throughout the story, so hearing his thoughts firsthand makes him more human and more likable. That said, I wasn't very into this book until it was nearly finished. Sebastian is a heavy-drinking, abusive, lazy, and dishonest guy, and it's hard to be sympathetic to his problems (since they're caused entirely by his self-destructive habits). However, his unquenchable optimism made me root for him a bit despite all of that. Overall, I guess I'm pretty ambivalent about the book-- I didn't hate it by the end, but I didn't exactly like it, either. Was it the 99th greatest novel written in the 20th century that I've ever read? Well, probably not...
To Go= 98