Thursday, February 04, 2021

Reader's Diary #2168 - Henry Miller: Tropic of Cancer

I missed the part in the Seinfeld episode "The Library" episode where they implied Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer was a rather vulgar book. All I knew was that it was a classic I hadn't read and finally got around to it.

Not that I'm opposed to a vulgar book per se, and Tropic of Cancer is that indeed and definitely not the dry literature that "classic" usually suggests. Every other word is "cunt." But I won't necessarily like something just because it's vulgar either.

Apparently a semi-autobiographical novel about Miller's time in Paris, I've decided I'd not have liked him as a person. There's a certain smugness about him that I couldn't take to. Plus there are plenty of glimpses into his biases: against women, Jewish people, people of colour, disabled people, etc. Quite frankly he came across as a sociopath and reminded me somewhat of the girlfriend from Pulp's "Common People" song, romanticizing the poor. He judges the working class for taking life too seriously yet owes his existence in Paris on their handouts. 

Also, there's not a plot to be found.

That all said, he could write a good sentence. And that's what kept me going. I enjoyed the descriptions of Paris and the trainwreck of his experience there, despite the fact that he didn't view it that way at all.

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