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The Rock Pool: A Novel Paperback – June 30, 1999
Pierced by the Sun
A gripping tale of murder and redemption by the author of Like Water for Chocolate. Learn More
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It's a mildly entertaining amateurish attempt to imitate early Aldous Huxley, Evelyn Waugh and Norman Douglas. The shadow of Hitler looms. Some of the writing is so clumsy that I wondered if my copy (a Persea 1981 reprint) had proofreader's (really non-proofreader's) errors. For example: "The principle of polite society, that unknown here; people appeared to grudge one of causing pleasure and avoiding pain, seemed second's agreeable intercourse and atone for it with unremitting rudeness." Does that make any sense? I wondered about "mentula moechia." Is there such a Latin word as "mentula?"
The strange thing is that the author was regarded as one of the great literary figures of the century. Why? This was his only novel. His other books were a book telling people how to write books and a book of literary criticism.
Another puzzle is that Cyril Connolly claimed it was rejected for publication because it was considered obscene. People go to bed with people they're not married to, but no details are given of what they do. There isn't a single naughty word. It's implied that some characters are homosexual.
I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it. It has some interesting insights and well-written parts, but why is Connolly considered so great?
As to the question of Connelly's undeserved fame. One possible answer is that George Orwell endlessly shilled for Connelly (they were schoolmates). The excellent 4-volume "collected letters and journalism" shows Orwell talking up Connelly starting in 1936 and not ending until soon before Orwell's death.