I have explained my reasons for reading classics, and I think I read other-books-by-authors-who-have-written-classics for much the same reason. This guy wrote ‘Brave New World,’ right? That was awesome, right? So ‘Eyeless’ has to be good.
This logic does not always hold up. For example, some authors are tragically bad earlier in their career, and only achieve success in their later years. Others (like Anne Lamott) write splendidly in one genre (autobiography, in her case) and rather insipidly in others (like fiction).
The thing with authors-who-have-written-classics is that, though there’s a chance of it being bad, the odds are slightly more in your favor of it being good. Luckily, ‘Eyeless in Gaza’ was quite good. It is the story of a man who, having money has devoted himself to having brains. Somewhere in middle age, he discovers that pedantry may not be all there is to life, and the book is speckled with his musings, an interesting read of themselves. Delicious with a glass of red wine.
One thing that got my goat about this book, however, was the chronology coleslaw. The chapters jump willy nilly about his life and I know, the date is scrawled across the page right below the words ‘Chapter xvii,’ but I’M JUST THAT LAZY, and I don’t want to do the math and figure out how old he is, and if he’s still sleeping with this one lady, or if he’s moved on to her daughter (and I’m not giving anything away because you find both those things out straight off). It does make for interesting reading, because here he is in one chapter, about to tell his best friend something truly horrible, and we already know what happens to the best friend as a result, because his later self told us in an earlier chapter, and then shaBANG! He is six years old again, and we have to wait a while longer.
Long story short, the book is more than well-written, the story is reasonably interesting, the characters are engaging, and I’m sure there’s a moral in it somewhere. Books with Bible-themed titles have to have a moral. It says so in the apocrypha.
Still, is it worth reading 619 pages?
Eight caterpillars, minus one for length.