Rejected Books: The Man by Irving Wallace


I picked up The Man at the recylcing center, intrigued at what a 1960s author had to say about a first black president. The novel thinks its very liberal but it hasn't always aged so well. As a sociological time machine though, it's fascinating. As a piece of writing, however, it's not that great.

Here's the problem. First, the first couple hundred pages or so are a nonstop series of new-character introductions. Even when new characters finally stop being introduced, the author can't leave them alone---he doesn't think we could bear not knowing about every moment in each character's life. So each time we remeet a character, we have to spend several pages as they eat a muffin and think over every bleeding thing that's happened to them since last we met. As a reading experience, this is incredibly frustrating. Just as I feel like the story's getting some forward momentum, it resets a few days or weeks or even months so we can learn what Joe Nobody's been up to.

I almost rejected this book last December, but then I decided not to start any new books in 2016 and so it got a reprieve. It stayed in the car as my in-the-car read and I read, oh, another hundred pages or so. (The book in interminable.) But I had it about a month ago and so replaced it with an appropriately named replacement.

I was just goofing around the internet and learned that some interesting events were forthcoming---the firing of the Secretary of State, an impeachment trial---but I just don't care enough to pick it back up. Giving up on this novel released me from an everpresent source of anxiety and I'm not going back.

Salut, President Dilman. I hardly knew ye.

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