Review: Acting the Giddy Goat

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am reviewing old books that have been languishing on the shelves. I am picking these books entirely by the content of their covers (no peeking inside), to determine for my own edification whether one can, in fact, judge a book by its cover.

So far, so good. I posted the following review on Library Thing:

“As promised on its cover, this is a novel of ideas. Focused on a group of friends/acquaintances in modern urban Toronto, the story is more about the internal struggles with identity, self/other, compromise/authenticity than it is about action, or even narrative. That is not to say that nothing happens; it is just that nothing particularly unusual happens. Couples argue, deals are signed, beer is drunk, and the fates intervene… well, maybe a few unusual things happen. Well worth a read if you are an overeducated or thoughtful late-60’s/early 70’s baby. You’re likely to encounter yourself in these pages.”

To say a bit more, each of the characters in this book is encountering the types of decisions, disappointments, opportunities, and challenges that we run into on a daily basis. Are you ready to be a parent? Do you stay at a job you hate to pay the bills? Do you value your work more than your family? Can you really be rational, or do you simply rationalize emotional decisions? How much do you relinquish artistic control for the possibility of making a lot of money? Overseeing all is Bill the Brewmaster, the narrator/chorus, whose own voice becomes that of the observer. Bill’s notes are interspersed with pieces of the narrative, possibly providing a framework for the author’s own observations of the world.

Had I not recently read Introducing Nietzsche, I would probably have missed the conflict between the Sons of Dionysus and the Sons of Appolo (shockingly glibly: art and the sensual temperament vs. rationalism) that seems to be the key theme in this work. It culminates in a wonderful prolonged scene of a thunderstorm in downtown Toronto and the band playing in a bar where the lights keep going off.

Beautiful work. Well worth a read.

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