Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Alice Must Be Bored

Alice in WonderlandAlice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

An honest caution: I may be prejudiced due to the fact that Carroll was a suspected pedophile who had, at best, one seriously creepy relationship with the ten-year-old Alice. That said, here's my review.

Well, I finally did it. Mostly. Kinda. Not really, but enough to satisfy myself, and then another hour, at which point I decided that an acid trip from the point of view of a six year old really wasn't all that interesting. I was reminded of Chicken Run: "Me life flashed before me eyes... It was really boring." So, I went from Lewis Carroll to G. K. C. Ballad of the White Horse, to be precise, and I have to say that that there was a bit of a contrast.

Now here's a spoiler alert: I'm about to give away the entire plot of the book (or at least the first half). Alice is normal, then really short, then really tall, then really short, then gets a really long neck, then gets short, then gets normal, then gets huge, then gets normal, then gets tiny, and keeps talking to random animals and animated inanimate objects throughout, the most interesting characters being the Cheshire Cat and the decapitatomatic queen, and a couple bits of poetry are randomly scattered throughout. But even with the poetry: "Speak roughly to your little child, and beat him when he sneezes..." is kinda weak when placed right before "But while he moved like a massacre, he murmured as in sleep," and not just due to content: due to sheer aesthetic appeal.

Now, it is a kid's book, and maybe I would have enjoyed it when I was about six, but I think my attention span was even shorter then (if possible) than it is now, so I'm gonna go with a negative. It's the kind of book that's excellent for bedtime reading when you have several kids who fall to sleep at different times, cause you just keep reading till the last one's asleep, and the next night, when the others ask what they missed, you can honestly say "absolutely nothing" and just pick up where you left off with no one the wiser. Perhaps I'm being overly negative. I don't know: lot's of people seem to like it, but then, lots of people like the movie renditions of Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings; you know, the ones with High King Peter the Twit? Faramir the Insecure? Reepicheep the Gerbil on Crack? Orcs with the combat skills of unusually dense alfalfa?

But I digress. The point is, I don't know how this ended up being a classic. It's Modern, as in Original (all rise), but just because no one else was stupid enough to do something doesn't necessarily make you smart for being the first one. Yes, Picasso could draw like Rembrandt, but most of the time he didn't. Most of the time he drew like he had a bad case of Tourette's, and you can tell me it's brilliant all you want, I'll take a Durer or Vermeer or even Bosch (which is definitely original, but in a really different kind of way) anytime. Unless the Picasso or Kandinsky is worth more, in which case I'd sell it and buy kettle chips, pipe tobacco and beer, just to dispel the gnawing suspicion that I have artistic taste that goes beyond "pretty" verse "projectile vomit into an electric fan." I don't see what's so great about the new and novel, especially when it really sucks.

So, if Lewis Carroll is your idea of pleasure reading, have fun. I know tastes do differ, and as he is so vastly popular, mine appear very much in the minority. Maybe he took the British "nothing is allowed to happen for the first fifty pages" and decided that two hundred was more like it, and I quit just before it got good. Maybe. I'd honestly be willing to reconsider my opinion, and I'm going to give his Through the Looking-Glass a shot before I fully write him off. But it's going to be a from the hip shot that will be in grave danger of hitting my foot while I reach for a soothing draught of Chesterton.

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