sucking, sucking, sucking
D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow. I thought I liked Lawrence, but this one sort of sucks. The back says that in this book "Lawrence challenged the customary limits of language and conventions," but in practice this means that he is less interested in the characters than in the theoretical archetypes that those characters embody. Certainly, if you look at the prose, those archetypes do an awful lot of the work. You can only read so many times that "the triumphant male in him" did this or that "the secret essence of her womanness" did that before the whole thing starts to seem like a put-on. As evidence of Lawrence's weird ineptness in describing actual people, I give three passages from the same page, all concerning the same young lady:
The Baron was almost dotingly curious and attentive to her. She, almost mockingly, yet quite happy, let him dote. Curious little thing she was, she had the soft, creamy, elusive beauty of a ferret.
She had a real charm, a kind of joyous coldness, laughing, delighted, like some weasel.
She despised his uncritical, unironical nature, it had nothing for her. Yet it angered her as if she were jealous. He watched her with deferential interest as he would watch a stoat playing.
Maybe you get some special achievement award for hitting the entire genus Mustela, but honestly. Also, this book should get props for publishing straight-up lesbian scenes in 1915, but all the sex scenes are really vague and filled with those archetypes and, well, unsexy. Half the time you can't even tell if sex actually happened. I'm sure that part of this is a limitation of the time and that, say, Lady Chatterley's Lover might do a better job, but there is plenty to read before I get there. Every time you open your bag on the airplane a different book is on top, so I am now part-way into The Tao of Physics, The Anatomy of Melancholy, and Bowleg Bill: Seagoing Cowboy.