Do You Hate Yourself? Read This Novel.
If A Dance To The Music Of Time was a dinner, it would be a plain hamburger with no cheese, no ketchup, no mustard–nothing–with a couple of cardboardish rice cakes meant to substitute for delicious, crispy, salty french fries.
All of this would sit on a plain, white plate with a white napkin and white plastic utensils. Next to the plate, a lukewarm glass of water would sit. No lemon. No ice. No straw.
When you finished that meal, you would say, “I just ate the most boring meal in the history of meals.” That’s what you would say. And you would be right. But what if that meal was a series of books?
Why would you eat a series of books? You wouldn’t. But you might read a series of books, and these books might bore you, not unlike that awful hamburger and rice cake combination.
All of that is a horrible lead-in to say I’m approaching the halfway point in the “Year of The Dance”–which is my year-long read through the 3,000+ page behemoth known as A Dance To The Music Of Time by Anthony Powell–one of the novels on the Time list.
The novel is broken into 12 volumes, which made for a nice opportunity to read one volume a month, in addition to my normal reading. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
If you’ve read any of my takes on the first four novels, you know I’ve been mostly underwhelmed. Book 4, At Lady Molly’s, was an improvement over the first three. But, even so, I’m not a fan of this novel to this point. Did the title of the post give it away?
Honestly, book 5–Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant–continues that trend. Powell introduces a few new characters into the novel–a group of music composers befriended by the narrator, Jenkins–who, more and more, seems to be the “everyman” compared to all the people he’s surrounded by.
In this book, Powell also does a little shifting in the time sequence of the novel, as book 5 starts several years before book 4 ended. Again, there’s not a ton of interesting stuff here. Although there is a divorce and a suicide, Powell somehow manages to make these events less dramatic than they could be. His storytelling style is one of skipping over the major events and focusing on the minor ones. Some people might appreciate that, but I find it dry.
As I keep saying, A Dance To The Music Of Time seems like a boring, reality TV show, had reality TV existed in the pre-World War 2 London.
I know I’m not providing much of substance with the posts about this book. But, honestly, I’m at a loss for words. I hope that, by the end of the year when I get through all 12 volumes, I’ll have something profound to say.
I think it says something about this novel that I’ve read more than 1,000 pages of it, and I don’t have much to say. Or maybe it says something about me. Either way, not much has been said. I know that.
So, to sum up this post: I don’t have much to say about a book that doesn’t say much. I hope Dance gets more interesting, but I fear that it won’t.
To read more of my remedial insight about Dance, feel free to peruse my previous posts.