Skip to main content

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

I think that I must have been the only person in high school that didn't have to read this book for English class.  And I have this wierd, almost romantic, notion that i will get through a lot of the classics, if not all of them, before I die. I also have this thing about books that occur on college campuses or at prep schools And this was one of those books that, on its face, seemed to fit all of those interests.  But I was disappointed, I must say and I was happy that the book was so short, comparatively speaking.

The novel is set at Devon, a prep school in New Hampshire (that is obviously loosely based on Exeter) during the 40's. World War II is raging on.  The novel focuses on Phineas (Finny for short) and Gene (the protagonist) who is best friends with Finny. They are seemingly best friends - at the very least, they became friends quickly. The honeymoon period is followed by a period of one sided animosity with Gene hating Finny with such intensity that it's surprising that nothing worse happened sonner than it did. It culminates, at least initially, with Gene knocking Finny out of a tree that they were using to jump into a river and with Finny receiving a shattered leg that ruins his athletic career. The book meanders on until the ending, which threw me a little bit for a loop, but then I became embarassed because I really thought that I should have expected it.

I didn't mind the fact that there wasn't a lot of action.  Some of the best books, in my opinion, don't have a lot of action in them but have a ton of stuff that you can still sink your teeth into - relationships, philosophy, a good story, characters that you connect with and care about. But this novel didn't have anything like that.  It didn't have a story, I didn't particularly care for the characters (or how Knowles created them) and I didn't particularly empathize with anything that happened either. Which meant that the story was just plain boring. And disappointing. And made me glad that I didn't have to read it in English class.

I would pass.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

In Memoriam

One of my most favorite bookish podcasts, Books on the Nightstand, has ended its tremendously successful run.  It has been around seemingly forever and was one of my staples in book recommendations. It will be sorely missed and leaves a space in my podcast listening zone that I'm striving to fill.  While I understand that the podcast em-cees, Michael and Anne, have their own lives that they probably want to continue with (and podcasting takes a lot of time, particularly when you're as popular as they are and, for example, as popular as the Manic Mommies are/were), they will be sorely missed.  However you can find them on both Goodreads and on Twitter.

In anticipation of their ultimate decision to end the podcast, I found a number of other really awesome podcasts to fill the void, some of which are bookish and some of which aren't.  For your listening pleasure:


BookRiot - more of a news in the publishing industry podcast but still pretty awesome;All the Books - a weekly po…

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

You may recognize the author's name - Krakauer is perhaps most famous for the book Into the Wild about a young man that goes to Alaska (and which was made into a movie).  I enjoyed that book and when I heard on a podcast that I listen to that Krakuer had written a new book, I decided to get it and read it.  In this book, which is non fiction - he focuses on the University of Montana, the local police department and at the local prosecutor's office and analyzes their job performances through the eyes of five young women who were sexually assaulted. During this same period, the Department of Justice investigated how those same parties handled 80 rape cases and that investigation yielded dismaying results. In one instance, a detective re assured a male suspect during an interrogation that she didn't believe he committed a rape (despite evidence to the contrary) because they got a lot of false accusations. Similarly, the Chief of Police (!!!) sent an article to a victim citin…

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

I was hesitant to pick up Justin Cronin's trilogy, which began with The Passage, because I was vampired out.  But it's different. It combines science fiction and westerns and spans about 1500 pages and 1000 years and generations, upon generations of people.  It's dystopian and hopeful all at the same time! The vampires don't sparkle, thankfully, and the story isn't just told in prose - it's told via letters, journals, scientific journals, flashback, the whole nine yards.
As the book opens, we find our beloved characters in a time of peace and relative prosperity.  There have been no viral attacks for twenty years. The main characters are all struggling with something that has broken them and they each struggle. And there was also Zero, the ultimate bad guy, that wants his say and his ultimate revenge. This book is wonderful in the sense that it is Cronin at his absolute best - he is a storyteller on par with perhaps the best of the fantasy writers - of any w…