Wednesday, September 06, 2017

First Wednesdays Book Review Club: IN A LONELY PLACE, Dorothy B. Hughes


If the film version of IN A LONELY PLACE was crafted as a tragic love story, one can never feel the novel was meant to be that. The romance in the novel serves mostly to titillate the psychopathological tendencies of our protagonist, Dix Steele. He is a narcissist incapable of love for anyone but himself. Full of self-pity, and guilty of so many other sins, the book opens with a series of stranglings going on in LA. Dix, a pretend novelist living at the home of a missing friend,  was a heroic figure in the war and reconnects with an old army buddy, Brub who is now a cop and newly married. Then he meets Laurel,  a neighbor. Their romance if it  can be called that is filled with tense situations. This may be one of the tensest books I have ever read. And the resolution is one no man would ever pen.
I have to say that many of Dix's traits reminded me of our current leader: self-pity, the need to seek revenge, extreme narcissism, the ability to only see his side of an argument. And certainly the presence of women brings out the worst in him. This was a terrific novel if you can tolerate an unlikable protagonist. You want to feel some sympathy for him but never can muster up a drop.
The afterword in this new edition by NYRB is by Megan. Rest, Megan, rest.

For more reviews, see Barrie Summy.

9 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Sounds lie a good read, Patti. And, yes, Megan really needs to rest.

George said...

Megan seems to be everywhere! I'm a big fan of the NEW YORK REVIEW books.

Jenn Jilks said...

Art imitating life? (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Or life imitating art? Sounds like an interesting if not particularly pleasant read. Good review, Patti.

Barrie said...

I read The Dinner by Herman Koch. There isn't a likable character in that book. That said, I did enjoy the book. I might have to wait until the politics settle down a bit here before tackling this one though. Although I do like the sounds of all the tension. Thank you for reviewing!

troutbirder said...

I must say as I finished you first paragraph I'd already decided that I knew of a similar creep. The your identified him by naming the same egomaniac I was already thinking about. Ugh!....:(

pattinase (abbott) said...

I read that too, Barrie. And really thought it was good. And then saw a European movie of it that was also good. I guess the English one was not.

Sarah Laurence said...

Eek! I'm not sure I want to spend time with a character who would remind me of Trump. It's scary enough it real life!

Powell River Books said...

Not sure it's my kind of book, but I do love hearing about what other people are reading and I'm always on the lookout for something new to try. - Margy