Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer was written a couple of decades before the Beat movement really took off, but it has the same sort of style: rambling, extemporaneous, structureless, but also brightly descriptive and philosophical. Indeed, much like On the Road, Tropic of Cancer deals with a real-life period in the life of its author Henry Miller, and its characters are pseudonymed versions of real people. Specifically, it deals with Miller's time as an expatriate in Paris, trying to get by with no money and no job.

Like On the Road, it can be extremely boring: there is no plot to speak of, no beginning, middle, or end, and what passes as action doesn't really serve to entice the reader. Unlike On the Road, the prose can be haunting and gorgeous, and make you forget that the book you're reading is basically going nowhere. Sometimes it's enough to get lost in Miller's style, but most of the time this book is just frustrating. I am especially tired of this kind of book, I think, and would like to read something with a more substantial plot. Maybe a murder mystery.

3 comments:

Carlton said...

Hardy Boys Casefile #53: Web of Horror is pretty good.

Kelly said...

It's got some nudity on the cover... points for that right??

Gayle said...

personally, i think you are missing the entire point of the book. Miller specifically says in the beginning that this is not a normal book. it is a "gob of spit in the face of art" . you need to realize that the point is not to have a plot it is to exercise the ability to write what you want. in that sense, this book is a masterpiece.