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The Plumed Serpent Kindle Edition
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel. See more
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DHL clearly was wary, perhaps even frightened, of Mexicans and what he repeatedly refers to, ominously, as their "black, center-less eyes." For DHL this meant it was impossible to know what the Mexicans were thinking, or feeling, if they were (or weren't) in fact doing either. I doubt that this novel, were it new, would be published today: it would be pronounced racist and Feminists would deem it misogynistic, as the strong, independent female protagonist seems really just need to be sexually overpowered by dark, native men. (One might want to recall that a close American friend of DHL and Freda, the white female artist Mabel Dodge, who gave Freda a ranch near Taos, New Mexico, married a local New Mexican native American Indian--Red Indian, in the words of DHL.) When the book was originally published, the controversy was about it being Fascist. It is most certainly anti-Catholic. This being DHL, male skin is well in evidence, of course, in this case brown rather than pale white.
There is a fair amount of Mexican native-Indian-gods-worshiping DHL poetry, if you like that sort of thing; if not, it is easy to skip over; it's man-cave kind of mumbo jumbo, though beautiful too. I presume (and intend to investigate) the scenes of native Mexican Indians stripping Catholic churches and burning the "idols" from within are fact-based. Another unusual thing: there is real shoot-'em-up (or slit their throats) violence here, though not much nor presented squeamishly.
On the whole: something unexpected and unlikely from DHL...but quite readable too, a page-turner, as it were.
The prose is excellent, the yarn is not awful, but the vision it conveys is distressing, particularly when you consider that he never wrote another novel before his untimely death in 1930.
Though WOMEN IN LOVE and THE RAINBOW are among the world's greatest novels, you begin to think after reading a lot of Lawerence that he wasn't really a natural novelist. He praised the form as man's greatest "invention", he called it "the bright book of life", he judged that the novelist, unlike other writers, "gets the whole hog" ... but non-fiction, especially his literary criticism, may have been his true metier.
And you can't discount his "prophetic" role, tasteless as his "message" sometimes seems (as in the novel under review). FANTASIA OF THE UNCONSCIOUS and the posthumous PHOENIX 1 & 2 are magnificent.
Maybe the true but modest conclusion is that the life of Lawrence is what really matters, that his books are secondary to the man, although the only way we can know anything about him is through his books. The memories of others, including Frieda, are too contradictory and fragmentary to make his visions palable, ditto the biographies. Reading his works of every kind, from novels to short stories to essay to travel books to letters, without pigeon-holing him is the best way to understand him, I'd say, and understanding him is something worth doing.
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