Monday, December 27, 2021

Beautiful Worl, Where Are You by Sally Rooney


I have similar complaints about this novel to the ones I had about her NORMAL PEOPLE of several years ago.  But that one I ended up liking. This one is too much. The dialogue is simply not credible -- not to mention the tediously long, trumped-up email/letter exchanges. No one speaks like that. And her cast of characters are some loathsome, self-obsessed, privileged folk.

Nothing happens in this book except for dialogue, and some sex. Way too much dialogue and not enough sex. Although some of the dialogue is about sex, which I suppose should count fractionally to her credit.

The three childhood friends, two women and a slightly older man, and one other man, circle each other warily in a fog of hurt feelings, disappointments, and subtle reprovals. The character Felix, who seems to work in an Amazon-like distribution warehouse, is the closest thing to a real-life blue-collar class struggler we get. And his biggest injury is a paper cut. The famous novelist Alice apparently had a serious nervous breakdown and continuing psychiatric problems mostly because of her success and the way she has legions of fans who think they know her and think they love her or hate her. Boo hoo.

That said, she has a crystalline prose style.

To those who would say she is the millennial generation's Henry James - well, ok, no one said that, and I'm just saying that for straw man fun - I would say, There is something to her inquisitive rational dissection of human feeling and emotion that recalls the master.

How much of this is sour grapes, my envy at Rooney's success? 33 to 37%. How much of this is being spiteful for fun? 8%. I should write more, if I truly dislike it that much, or should not have written at all.  It's a draw.

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