At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I'm beginning to realize that if I keep track of which people recommended which books, my holiday shopping will drastically change.
I'm rather bemusedly reminded of the time my Lordship professor informed us that he'd accidentally assigned us four times the amount of reading that he was allowed to (this in a school whose first year reading list book stack was taller than I was), so he told us we only had to read the odd-numbered pages (but quizzes and tests would include information from the even pages as well). I'd have liked this book more had I only read every other page. It was well-written: very well-written. But that's half of the problem: why was it written at all? If someone wants to inflict this kind of thing on humanity, at least he could have the decency to write it like a Pakistani immigrant attempting to compile a phone book so that no one would ever read it. I grant you, the concept was interesting. Actually, it was downright brilliant. But it was entirely the wrong genre. We have one hundred pages of suspense for half a page of rather dry revelation with the shock value of seeing trouble with great legs walk into a private eye's office in a noir film. Is it Chinatown, Jack?
If we cared at all about the character, or any of the characters, then there might have been some tension. My favourite "person" was the dog and he died, or rather, was dead when I started to posthumously like him (I figured that a dead dog, on top of being worse than a live lion, had more of an excuse to have no personality than all the other characters did). But we know the narrator lives, as it's his memoirs, and we know that a lot of people die, as we find them, well, dead, about page thirty, and we never really cared to begin with: they're just the girls dropping their tops to start the horror film (not literally: I'm talking motifs here), or whatever no-name actor is standing next to Harrison Ford. The problem is the utter lack of Harrison Ford.
All in all, it was erudite and sophisticated, and would be a fantastic twenty-page story. Sorry Lovecraft, but you're going to gather a good bit of dust over the next few decades.
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