As I noted here I have started reading Ayn Rand’s seminal work, Atlas Shrugged, a book that at least one survey deterimined was the most important book after the Bible to a good number of people.
Normally I’m a voracious reader, and I read quite quickly.
No offense to people who love this book, but IMHO it’s dreck. Her characters are cardboard cutouts with psychoses for personalities – all of them. Her prose is stilted, repetative, and bombastic. Her world-model has all the intricacy and detail of a Leggo construction, but less color. And the BIG Leggo blocks, not the little ones. I’m not a third of the way in, and it’s almost painful to read. Dagny and Reardon have (in the modern vernacular) “hooked up” and they’re so dysfunctional that I keep expecting Francisco to show up in leather and dominate them both. Methinks Rand had some pretty severe issues with sex.
Her essays are interesting, though her style even there is heavy. (Struggle through The Comprachicos some time. I think her analysis is correct, and a few decades after she wrote it we’re paying the cost of what she accurately described, but a stylish and engaging writer she was not.) I give her the benefit of the doubt because English was not her native language, but this manifesto badly camoflaged as a novel is almost more than I can deal with. I have been promised that it will improve, but there’s this thing called “suspension of disbelief” and it requires better writing than Ms. Rand seems capable of. If I haven’t suspended disbelief by now you can bet your a** I’m not going to.
I’m going to slog to the finish, I’ll read all the essays she writes as dialog and cringe at the relationships between the pricipals, but I doubt that I’ll enjoy the experience as so many others seem to have.
(I wonder if this will result in hate-mail?)
UPDATE: As of August 8, 2013 due to the herculean efforts of reader John Hardin, the original JS-Kit/Echo comment thread for this post is now available (for reading only) here.