Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sons, Lovers, and Jerks

finished one month ago: Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
now reading: Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie
intervening book, also now finished: Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage by Allan Nevins

Nothing like not getting around to posting about a book until a full month after finishing it! Sorry, D.H. Don't feel slighted. You know, slighted? Like the way characters in your book certainly ought to feel, based on how they treat one another?

I mean, seriously. The main impression of Sons and Lovers that remains with me, a month later, is: Wow! The jackassery!  I've never met such an unlovable bunch of characters. And I don't mean "unlovable" in that Quentin Tarantino film way, where you kinda totally dig them precisely because they are so unlovable. No, I mean just straight up annoying/mean/whiny/selfish/jerky bastard/some combination of these.

OK, but was the book any good?  Wee-e-e-e-lllllll....it was a bit long. And I'm not usually one to shirk from a lengthy novel; indeed, I love me some massive tomes. But it has to be good. I mean, it's like, a Brady Bunch episode should not be as long as The Godfather. These are different animals. D.H. Lawrence I would expect to be able to fulfill me for four or five hundred pages, because the guy can certainly turn a phrase, and he's more observant than maybe 100 average people put together, but my god did it take forever for anything to happen in Sons and Lovers. Actually, scratch that. It took forever for nothing to happen. Therein lies the problem.

Oh, except when a main character was dying. That was something happening. And it took forever. It is  never good when the reader is thinking, geez, just die already!

I suppose I'm sounding pretty negative. I didn't actually hate it. I may question how on earth it reached spot #9 on the Modern Library's list of the Top 100 novels in English, but I didn't hate it. I just didn't love it as much as Lady Chatterley, which was  my first encounter with ol D.H.L.

Yes, and that brings me to my other consternation. D.H. being my 'L' author for my literary blog project, I first read Lady Chatterley's Lover, which earned him a spot in my A-to-Z top half, and now I've read Sons and Lovers as my second book of his. But I don't know that he's going to advance to the semi-finals of my project! And yet, I know I will end up reading him again someday, because both The Rainbow and Women in Love are ALSO on that dang Modern Library list, which I am determined to get through. So even though he doesn't make the cut now, I will be back to him in the future.

When I was deciding which D.H. to read for my A-to-Z-top-half revisiting, I conducted an informal poll of my friends (i.e., I posted the question in my Facebook status, and whoever happened to see it and pay attention and bother to respond got their votes counted) and Sons and Lovers was highly recommended. I'm so curious: why? If you love Sons and Lovers (and Jerks), do tell. What makes it great?

My final grade: C+

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