did not finish: The Ecstatic by Victor LaValle

After The Changeling, I thought I was in for anything and everything LaValle, but it turns out he offers a whole range, and it is not all for me. I went 100 pages in (with Nancy Pearl’s slightly misremembered Rule of 50 in mind), out of love for Changeling, but decided to stop there. The Ecstatic reminded me very strongly of A Confederacy of Dunces, which to be fair I read a really long time ago, and itself won a Pulitzer. Both books have won much praise, but all the things are not for all the people, and this one didn’t work for me.

There were some wonderful lines. To begin chapter 1:

They drove a green rented car into central New York State to find me living wild in my apartment. Wearing shattered glasses and my hair a giant cauliflower-shaped afro on my head.

That is an opener to stick with the reader forever, right up there with “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

They held hands absently, but firm; one set of fingers like kudzu, the other like dirt.

What a delightful image to evoke firm handholding, as a force of nature. And,

My sister and I turned out such heathens I’m surprised we didn’t bubble when baptized.

That one just made me laugh.

But I couldn’t get behind the woes of this protagonist any more than I did Ignatius J. Reilly (sorry). It was sort of interesting but not appealing; I do not always require likeable characters but definitely missed having one here… so I gave up. I’m not done with LaValle, but will be more careful with my next selection.

As ever, your mileage may vary.


No rating for this DNF.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: