samskivert: Dhalgren – Samuel R. Delany (2)

30 April 2001

This beast of a book snuck into my reading list uninvited and had the audacity to hover just above the threshold of interest, such that I had no choice but to trudge through its thousand-odd pages just to quell the uneasiness it wrought upon my mind. It’s not a novel in the same way that Twin Peaks is not a television drama.

A mysterious world is painted in your mind; some mysteries developed further, leaving you with the beginnings of an understanding. New mysteries arrive with disturbing frequency. The occasional fragment of a plot is played out. Then, after the long and sweaty night, it simply ends. Leaving you to wake up confused, sticky and alone. Wondering why they did it; why you did it.

It helps a little when you go back and reread the introduction and it’s acknowledged that Dhalgren is not supposed to be a novel, like Joyce in his later works. But the value is not there. If Delany were as good at writing not-novels as Lynch is at writing not-screenplays, it may have been worth the effort.

©1999–2022 Michael Bayne