Gerald’s Party by Robert Coover
rating: 2 of 5 stars
Coover takes a minimally interesting premise–a cocktail party right out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting as the setting for a send up of the classic Agatha Christie “closed room” mystery–and beats it to death. I guess the meta-joke is that just as the hellish party is inescapable and goes on forever, the book is inescapable and goes on forever. Fortunately, however, the book is escapable– you have only to stop reading.
Certainly Coover deserves some style points for verbal skill and unrestrained imagination. The book is finely crafted, in the sense of the interlocking stories & themes, the literary allusions & wordplay, etc, etc.
But it’s pointless and ugly. Why would I want to read a thirty page “joke” about a stopped toilet and skating over a vomit-covered floor? How much necrophilia is “enough” for one avante-guard novel?
It might have been an interesting and perhaps disturbing story at 50 pages. But at more than 300 pages, it’s just a bore.
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