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Re: Illuminatus!
Posted By: Stephen, on host
Date: Tuesday, August 25, 1998, at 23:25:46
In Reply To: Re: Book-A-Minute Suggestions posted by Dave on Monday, August 24, 1998, at 23:21:18:

> Let's just say the book(s) was a lot of work for a small payoff. It was actually *difficult* to read the book, as I'm sure you know.

Yes, it was, at least at first. Once I started getting into it, the randomness and perspective jumping become normal. But I'll give you that point.

>That's not something I'm automatically against--I like something that stops and makes me think about what I'm reading from time to time. But this made me stop and think for all the wrong reasons, IMO. I didn't stop to think about the message the book was delivering, or about the story it was telling, I stopped to try to figure out who the heck was talking and when the last scene left off and this new one started and why the heck these two people are suddenly having sex.

Semi-agreed there. Though I think a large part of that can be attributed to the use of some, shall we say, "not too perfomance-enhancing substances" that were obviously used by the authors (which does not excuse the book's lack of cohesiveness). But, again, I got used to it, and was able to figure out when things changed. And, when it got too rambly and non-sensical, I just skipped those parts (which, by the way, I do a lot. I generally skip things like excess description, even in authors whose stuff I enjoy [Tolkien comes to mind, why we need 25 pages on a totally uneventful journey escapes me]).

>I'm very much pro-storytelling, and to me, the best kind of storytelling is the transparent kind--the kind where you never have to think about a strange turn of phrase, or about what is going on or about who is talking. Everything fits perfectly, and you forget that you're reading a novel entirely and are instead living the scene yourself. That's what I strive for in my own writing, and it's what I look for in the novels I read.

Hmm, well, I'm really not that way. I'm not the kind of person that rarely gets lost in things no matter how good they are. I can be at the most dramatic part of a book/movie/whatever, and just go "Hmm, what time is it?" For me then, stopping to figure out just what was going on wasn't all that odd. I think that some of the fun from reading Illuminatus! was trying to figure out just what was going on at the time (this is more true, but in a different way, for Masks of the Illuminati). I don't think that some temporary confusion due to non-linearity is a bad thing.

>Illuminatus!, with the silly games it played with the narrative, failed that task miserably. Worse yet, the story it told really wasn't all that compelling anyway. What it boiled down to is "personal freedom rules." Heck, I already knew that.

That sarcastic wit is what I love about BAM, the ability to just boil down something to it's most basic form and mock it is very funny. In that context, yes, the point was lame. But that's like saying the story to say, Citizen Kane was "Being self-centered is bad."

You know what I find really odd? I liked Illuminatus! for all the reasons you didn't. I _liked_ the "silly games" played with the narrative. The way the story unfolded, not being sure what was really going on, and the lack of any sort of real conclusion was all interesting to me. I just don't see why you didn't like those... Oh well, to quote Dante: "It takes different strokes to move the world."

(No, not THAT Dante. The one from Clerks.)