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From: douge@nti.com (Doug Eigsti)
Subject: Re: (whorl) Re: There are doors
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 15:09:29 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

Patrick O'Leary, (and all 'befuddled' by THERE ARE DOORS);

	When I read the description below I find that it approximates my 
own feelings, except that, somehow, I liked the experience. I repeat the 
comment for clarity:

> (Quoting myself) Patrick O'Leary wrote:
>  I must say it was one of the most unique reading experiences I've had. I
> found it  strangely unsettling and riveting, yet not at all enjoyable. I
> couldn't fault the writing--it was fine. But it satisfied none of the
> appetites I bring to fiction--even the desire to be surprised--it was all
> drudgingly surprising or not in a rather ephemeral way. Then I realized how
> much the book had fumagated my consciousness (believe me, I tried to find a
> better verb). I lived for days in a daze--cloudy, befuddled--my thoughts full
> of ellipsises. Then, I understood that he had not simply written the portrait
> of a man lost between two realities...Wolfe had actually, accurately
> recreated the moorless consciousness of dreams (our closest proximity to
> reality hopping). He got it all--the tantalizing innuendoes of desire that
> are never quite consummated, the dead ends, and frustrating returns, the
> incomplete sentences, the physical detail trembling with meaning yet
> maddeningly obscure, the sudden friendships and allegiances that require no
> foreplay or proof. I could go on--dreams are one of my favorite obsessions. 
> BUT--and this is crucial--I DID NOT ENJOY IT. Now, how does one accomplish
> that? So while I'm saluting his amazing creative powers, a truly rare ability
> to create an altered consciousness--not simply sub-create an alternate
> reality--I'm thinking, what good is all of it if doesn't move me? What does
> it say for a novel who's only living character is a doll? Wolfe goes way
> beyond the postmodern hi-jinks of defeating expectations (which is really
> just returning the reader to self- or reader-consciousness) he actually
> recreates the hero's continual resuspension of belief. It occurs to me how
> odd all this must sound if you've never read the book!! My bottom line is I
> think Wolfe has really accomplished something--a Tour de force, in fact--but
> I doubt it's something I have any use for! I wonder if I'm alone in this
> feeling."

	This seems, to me, to be a review by a reader deeply effected by
the book. I think the feelings THERE ARE DOORS evoked were, perhaps, just
those Wolfe had intended. Such strong emotions are not easily provoked
from a work of fiction and would be a challenge for any writer. Wolfe has
struck a chord with this work. I feel the same way about Speilberg's
SHINDLER'S LIST. Watching it is agonizing, but the emotions are true.
Constant contentment is unsettling. 

	 I think Master Ultan said it best:

	I began, as most young people do, by reading the books I enjoyed, 
but I found that narrowed my pleasure...
			(THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER, p. 44.5 paperback)


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