Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review of Ishmael

Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn - book review

My rating: 4/5

From reading other online reviews, I can see it's a controversial novel. And controversial it must be, because it's not much of a novel. There's no plot to speak of, almost no descriptions, the language used is only barely literary, so the reader will be wowed by no grand metaphors or similes.

The novelistic shell used to transmit the message is a dialogue, and once again, it's not a very good one, and certainly not believable.

However, as we say envers et malgré tout, I'm going to go ahead and give this work 4 stars.

What? With all I've written here about the lack of literary worth, I nevertheless give it 4 stars?

Well, yeah. It's a Trojan horse, of sorts, a big ol' clumsy Trojan horse that you can tell even from a great distance that it's a Trojan horse, and you let it within the gates of the city anyways because you figure there's no way the starving soldiers huddled within are in any shape to do any harm. But then you read it, and you're surprised.

So basically, what the novel does do well is tell the story of two people, the Leavers who have existed from time immemorial and should go on living in respect of nature's fundamental law (I won't spoil it by saying which), the Takers who would control the planet and submit it it's wants and whims. And this story is compelling, and as it comes into focus, it strikes a mythical chord that, for me anyway, resonated deeply.

Of course, one needs suspend disbelief long enough to let in a telepathic gorilla who overbearingly tells this story to a fallen idealist whose side of the dialogue mostly consists of "Okay"s and "Yes, I see that"s.

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