Monday, December 03, 2007

Book Review: The Secret History

It's somehow unseemly to read a novel that came highly recommended by a particular individual, only to realize that the recommender's enthusiasm was almost certainly a function of his identification with one of the more loathsome characters. Such unwelcome and uncomfortable intimacies are almost enough to keep you from reading otherwise superior novels.


I hate campus novels, but this kept me engrossed because of, not despite, the collegiate setting. It's psychologically astute, but the last hundred pages are a bit heavy on the melodrama. I appreciated the author's restraint with respect to some of the other characters, so the gratuitous elements were especially obvious. For example, after teasing us with (mostly) unconsummated attractions between the narrator and two of his friends and establishing realistic yet opaque characters, we get sexual sensationalism on a V. C. Andrews level and crudely inserted dialogue establishing psychopathology. The writing is, however, marvelous, and the aforementioned minor irritants should not discourage you from reading this book. Highly recommended.
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