Look Homeward Angel, by Thomas Wolfe. Only 75 pages but I’m a bit disappointed. It started, for me, as a kind of Victorian novel besides all its American setting, something between Dickens (David Copperfield + Oliver Twist, but without his skill for unforgettable characters) and Hardy (Jude the obscure disenchantment, but with a much warmer style), telling the story of a violent and disgusting husband and his cold and calculating wife. Lots of children, anecdotes, small jokes…Suddenly it changes to a too sweet narrative about the main character infancy and his bizarre family. It has now and then a change to a modern style narrative (stream of conscience-like) which doesn’t really fit very well with the rest. Now it goes for more than one page naming odours from spring as felt by a 5 years old boy (as one of the long tirades from Leaves of Grass).
But the main problem is that it’s too autobiographical, and Wolfe has to tell about all the books he read, all the songs he sang at school and lots of thing which don’t mean anything for the reader. I feel he enjoys much more writing than we reading, and he’s not taking into account our interest in the story). He doesn’t seem to know that a few chosen details can give a stronger impression than two thousand anecdotes. He works accumulating words and sentences, some of them of very dubious interest perhaps believing he will give that way a stronger impression of life.
I hope it will go better from now on, after all it’s a 500 pages book and I only read 75. Sometimes you get use to the style and start to enjoy the novel after all. Perhaps all the criticism is because I was looking for a completely different kind of book. It’s not bad at all, but I was expecting something really good and original. By now I can’t understand why Faulkner considered him such a great writer.