Wednesday, 10 November 2010

TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller


Apparently this one was banned on publication for being too sexually explicit. I think it should have been banned for being so incredibly boring.

I can't really tell you what it is about, as I had to stop about twenty pages in. There is some guy. He is an aspiring novelist, he is poor, he is Paris. So far, so DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON. And yet, from the same source material as Orwell, this guy has managed to write a load of rubbish.

Basically, the main character likes to have sex with prostitutes. One of these prostitutes (and we are not talking wealthy call girls, but starving women on the street) "loves her work." Apparently, she is all body, and only exists in sensation. She does a lot of panting in her torn hose. What immensely craptacular nonsense. Her labia are referred to repeatedly as her rosebush. I'm sorry, that's when I had to give up.

5 comments:

  1. That's disappointing. Ever since seeing Henry and June (what with my incessant movie watching)I have been curious about this book. Oh well.

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  2. Sarah, hello.

    That's one way to look at the book. Another is to take note of its imagery, its surrealistic passages, its sense of humour, and its healthiness. Or rather, the healthiness of the narrator. Sure, he cadges off friends, and likes to sleep with lots of women; he also likes Joyce, and Ravel, and describing the scenes of Parisian life in the early 1930s. It's a picaresque novel, so if you're reading it for plot, then you're going to be disappointed. If you want to see where Kerouac and the Beats, and Bukowski, and many other writers, came from; and if you want to read a book admired by TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, and Erica Jong, then maybe try again. Sometimes the same book at different times affects us differently. Just a thought.

    When I read this at age 18 it showed me that you could have the freedom to think extravagantly, and to write in ways not shown in the English courses at the university I was going to.

    regards,
    Jeff

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  3. Hello Pants dujour! Weirdly, I've always been really curious about HENRY AND JUNE, but never actually seen it. I hadn't even clocked it was about Henry Miller till right now. I must get on it, for as much as I didn't like his novel he sounds like an interesting man!

    And Jeff, thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I really appreciated it. It made me feel like I will give the book another chance, later. You are probably right: I can be a bit overly plot focused, and give up on novels that are challenging far too easily. Though I have to confess - I also can't stand Kerouac!! Oh dear. I am fascinated that TS Eliot enjoyed it. I worked on a play (I am in the theatre) called TOM AND VIV, about his life, and he seems such an uptight man that I can't even imagine him in the same room as this book.

    Thanks again for the intelligent comment. This is one thing I love about my blog, hearing from other readers. Please do let me know if you have a blog, I'd like to follow it x (Pantsdujour I've already found yours . . )

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  4. Sarah, hello. Thanks for your response to my note. I'm not a Kerouac or Beat or Bukowski fan either.

    I don't have a blog yet, but I do have a website (how retro is that?), which is

    www.jeffbursey.com

    I also have a satirical novel out, my first, called _Verbatim: A Novel_. Published on 1 October, it's in hardcover from Enfield & Wizenty, of winnipeg, manitoba. It's a canadian book. But Amazon.com has it. My novel doesn't have a lot of plot, and it doesn't even have full characters; it's about parliamentary matters--how we are governed--and is told through letters, debates, and lists. There's no narrative voice, and no recipes. No man who's 33 going through hard times. No bonding. Lots of coming apart, though. In case that interests you.

    regards,
    Jeff

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  5. Ooh, Jeff, I love a political novel. Also, I love verbatim theatre, so it's interesting for a novel. But no plot, how will I survive! I will def. look it up on Amazon x

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