It is admittedly completely unfair to review this book without finishing it, and I did find Pamela Paul’s recent exhortation in the New York Times to read books you hate convincing. I also have read the other review on Goodreads which said to skip the first 100 pages and get into the much more engaging story of the editor and his rediscovered poetry manuscript.
But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.
Let me just give one example from a random page.
Sterling ‘grew into a debonair, eligible, sex-obsessed, bachelor-about-town. Yes, he was something of a wastrel, along with his youthful buddy from Cincinnati Johnnie George, heir to the Skoobie Doo peanut butter fortune, who enjoyed nothing more than swanning around with Sterling, and a couple of starlets for evenings on the town in New York, ski vacation in Jackson Hole, or trouble in Tahiti… No wonder dashing, tall, blond, rich Sterling had wowed local cattle heiress and landowner Jeanette Stevens and promptly gotten her pregnant. Jeannette was lovely and forthright in the Western way, but not all that challenging, Sterling admitted…’
Adjective after adjecting, no real sense of character beyond caricature, the sense that the writer finds himself witty (‘trouble in Tahiti’), silly clichéd language (‘something of a wastrel’; ‘forthright in the Western way’) and as with most of what I read, a cast of thousands of characters, never to be seen again. I can’t decide if it reminded me of talking to a talkative ten-year-old making up stories or a senior citizen, losing the plot.
Life’s too short to read such dead prose.