Wednesday, March 4, 2009
THE VIOLATED BY VANCE BOURJAILY
(Note-Haven’t posted much in the last couple of months about literature but as I have yet another literary care package on the way courtesy of my father and have been loaned a few classics by a colleague, I hope to go back to blogging about this, my favorite subject, in the near future)
There are books you read that are marvelous in construct either because of a meticulously developed or complex interlocking plotline or because of unique fully realized characters with deep personalities or because of a meaning that jibes with the time of its release or even better translates into something timeless that can be discovered anew by successive generations or, as in the case of THE VIOLATED by Vance Bourjaily, all of the above.
I posted on my other blog last year about discovering the writings of Vance Bourjaily and two other excellent books of his…. http://www.xanga.com/rgdinmalaysia/670524153/two-novels-by-vance-bourjaily/
However, as good as THE HOUND OF THE EARTH and THE MAN WHO KNEW KENNEDY are, THE VIOLATED is arguably his masterpiece.
It is the story of three men and one woman (the sister of one of the men)….All of the characters know each other but if there is something that truly connects them it is the feeling that life has somehow cheated them, screwed them, violated them (although that word seems a bit too strong in this context)….The story takes place over thirty years starting shortly before the depression, going through WWII, and finishing up in the 1950’s.
To sum up a few of the things that makes this such a great book, the characters are not everymen or women or generational role models despite what the blurb on the book jacket says (Regarding the blurb’s flashy praise, I also don’t see much in common between F. Scott Fitzgerald’s superficiality and Bourjaily’s amazing depth)….The characters in THE VIOLATED are unique because they are multi-dimensional, completely independent of the narrative not figures that exist solely to push along the plot….They are lusty, they are real, they are flawed….The fact they are of the greatest generation is important in understanding changing social morays but the book is far more that a comment on a specific period of history….Even the secondary characters are completely explained and each could be the subject of their own novel consisting of the information contained here.
The performance of HAMLET by small children that opens THE VIOLATED and comes up again in the last fourth of the book is an amazing literary mechanism that further rams home the idea of fate and not getting beyond what has happened to us and what marks life has left on us as is the ending which implies mankind’s cycle of frustration continues.
Vance Bourjaily is a writer whose name I want to scream from the rooftops….The fact he is not that well known while there was a lot of hubbub about the recent death of John Updike, an uptight elitist without any sense of realism or imagination, is a great injustice….According to Wikipedia, he is still alive (although in his mid 80’s)….It’s not too late to acknowledge the genius of Vance Bourjaily!