I’m sure I’m breaking some kind of rule by writing a review of a novel that I didn’t finish.
But it’s more that I couldn’t finish it rather than I didn’t, is my opinion. The book in question is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
I’m going to talk about it only on a few levels. I’m not going to bring up its plot points because, well, I didn’t really get that far. This is a novel of over a thousand pages in which I got merely a few hundred into. I wanted to force myself to complete it but I simply couldn’t get it done. Obviously I can’t talk about the rise of action and the third act. I wasn’t there.
I was there for some interesting thoughts on the matter of humanity. Rand has a way of eloquently, if not in a verbose manner, letting us know when mankind is overstepping its boundaries or not doing enough to be human. She details odd moments we often find ourselves in. She draws conclusions to unflattering, repeatable, universal moments we all go through. Think of the awkwardness of not being able to fall in love because of your ego. Think of deciding to accept society as a pacifier for what you need instead of being the leader everyone needs. Think of being groomed to achieve and then finding forces, artificial paradigms of life want you to remain a cog. Rand speaks about all of these things and makes them part of the plot. It’s like she shows societies entrails and says, “Don’t turn away, that’s you too. Look at it! Look at it!”
Yet I couldn’t finish reading.
I have to admit that for the most part I’m part of the generation of readers that likes less to do more. I don’t want to think about why Rearden wanting to have sex with Dagny. I’m fine with him wanting to have sex with her because, well, he has his reasons. I don’t need or want the logic. I simply don’t care. Don’t bore me with the ins and outs of wanting to get laid, at least not for paragraphs at a time, for example.
What would take most authors a few lines takes Rand chapters to accomplish. I’m sure it’s the details that count, but they don’t do it for me.
I gathered that Rand extended some details to make points on society, points that aren’t much talked about, and are worth thinking about. But story wise they simply got in the way. I wish I could write Ms. Rand a letter and tell her, “Hey, you’re not such a bad writer, but I’m not stupid. Just say what you want to say, just tell the story. Stop making your point with no humor.”
Yeah, that’s what I think.
A good friend of mine really loves this book for what it stands for, for what happens at the end, for John Galt.
Who is John Galt?
None of what I mentioned above made me put it down. Yes, I thought it a great bore. And, yes, I thought the writing cheated a lot, which didn’t really bother me. The one spot I found a real issue with was how elitist the main characters were. Not elitist in the sense that they had money and were privileged. I too want to have money and have privilege No problems there. It’s that they were rich because they were supposedly not just smarter but better than everyone around them. These people only had bad days when they took into consideration the rest of the world. Dagny is upset because society doesn’t want to let her save it, doesn’t want to let her make money from it? But it’s not really about money?
That idea being the premise is not something I’m going to read about for a thousand pages. I flat out don’t care enough. Rand makes some good points.
It’s like sushi. I love sushi but after I eat it I need to go get a burger because I’m hungry. Sushi tastes great and I love its preparation and I like how I feel when I’m done eating it. But after you leave the restaurant you crave something else or at least I do. Atlas Shrugged was like that for me. After each reading session I still wanted to be entertained. Realizing I was not amused or challenged by “Shrugged” I decided to drop it.
In my opinion, if you’re not hooked 200 plus pages in, put it down.
Tonight I’ll be watching the first part of the movie. I hear it’s not bad, just a little slow.