Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Our poor Hepzibah

Today's book: "The House of the Seven Gables" by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

I had so been looking forward to this book. Hawthorne's story "Young Goodman Brown" is an October classic, and I also love "The Birth-Mark." I guess he's more palatable in short form. In theory, there's nothing wrong with this book: It's got ghosts, a haunted house, and a protagonist named Hepzibah. But I was driven mad by the infinite descriptive passages and the utterly immobile plot. Of course, the plot is all about immobility, so Hawthorne probably is a literary genius. The climactic chapter, in fact, traces the course of a day in which a dead man sits in a chair, listing all the things he's NOT doing, and all the things that are NOT happening in the house. I'm talking myself into admiring the book, but finishing it last night was a huge relief. I guess I'm just a sad product of my action-driven generation.

Next: Shirley Jackson's "The Bird's Nest," about a woman with multiple personalities! I think. Hard to find but obtained from the marvelous Mercantile Library.

No comments: