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From: Patri10629@aol.com
Subject: (whorl) Re: There are doors
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 21:31:18 

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


Patrick O'Leary wrote (and you quoted me) "I had met him(Wolfe)  earlier and
had mentioned Hating THERE ARE DOORS.  "

JBjordan wrote:

"Briefly, why? I'll admit I did not understand why the Catholic Church
(Italian Restaurant) would want to hook up the main character with an idol
goddess, but Gene's explanation to me is that the Catholic Church does
incorporate pre-Christian religions, though in a purified and transformed
way. On the whole, however, I found it a delightful and thought-provoking
book. So, what did you not like about it? Instruct us....I hope this is not
"off topic." I think understanding "Long Sun" will involve understanding
Wolfe as a whole, especially his religious views."

I, too, hope this is not too off-topic. And I doubt it is very instructive.
But this is one reader's reaction to one of the few Wolfe novels I didn't
care for.

Rather than try to recollect I'll quote my reaction at the time...regarding

(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

That sort of sums it up. It's very probable that I didn't "Get" it. But, as I
told Gene, "THERE ARE DOORS nearly prevented me from experiencing the
exquisite pleasures of THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN."

Interestingly, recently in an online interview, when Wolfe was asked the pick
his favorite of his own novels, he chose THERE ARE DOORS. 

Aw, what does he know, anyway?:)

By the way, JB, I enjoyed the interview with Wolfe you did.


Patrick O'Leary

Questions or problems to whorl-owner@lists.best.com

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