January 21st, 2012


Life in Los Angeles

*wakes up*
What is that unearthly crackling noise?
Oh, it's raining.

Perhaps it's because I'm still muzzy with sleep and my brain is functioning half in dreamland, but when the 'puter alerted me that...

Mouse batteries are low!

I pictured a corporal dashing into the general's tent to inform him that the rodent artillery is running out of ammunition.

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

I confess to a deep-seated, long-standing, irrational aversion to this book. Decades ago, I saw it in a bookstore in the little section of Staff Recommendations. Aha, I frisked, HG Wells! But no, some impostor had sliced off the definite article and substituted some other work!

Nevertheless, the damn thing won a National Book Award, and somehow at long last my resentment alchemically transformed into obligation. I really didn't know what to expect; I guess I was imagining something like Black Like Me, but fiction and written by a black dude.

Though there's some of that, what was most surprising was how much of it is comic/satirical. Another interesting strength is an occasional focus on eloquent public speaking, whether the black preacher, the communist agitator, or the Caribbean black nationalist. Less satisfactory is a rather heavy-handed use of symbolism, and other passages that might be described as experimental, poetic, or my descriptor of choice... confused. Sadly, these become more frequent near the end. I enjoyed the first 2/3ds, but the last third was rather a hard slog.