Pulp poems, book reviews, and other tidbits from the noirboiled world
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Book Review: Charles Williams, River Girl (1951)
This is a top-notch Charles Williams novel puffed up (or down, depending on your point of view) into a so-so Charles Williams novel. I would be curious to know which came first: Williams' production of a manuscript 50% longer than his first two books or his assignment to produce a Gold Medal Giant. My suspicion is the latter. Unfortunately, given an extra 75-100 pages to work with, Williams does not find much to do with the additional space. His obvious choices would have been to build a more intricate plot (how about doing something with the narrator's wife, who wanders off stage at the beginning of the book and never reappears?) or to create more nuanced characters (how about fuller backstories for the major players so that their behavior is more believable?). Instead, the plot dawdles more, and the narrator is prone to long, earnest monologues. A squandered opportunity. Grade: C-
A: Excellent. I intend to read it again. B: Good. I might read it again. C: So-so. I didn't mind reading it. D: Bad. I resented reading it. F: Atrocious. I finished it only because I'm compulsive that way.