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riley

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The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion
Melvin Lerner

The 42nd Parallel: Volume One of the U.S.A. Trilogy

The 42nd Parallel - John Dos Passos Actually that is a 5/10 probably, but this site won't let me give half stars. The first part of the USA trilogy is certainly innovative. It's the first novel I know written in this style and for that it should certainly be commended. But Dos Passos' reach far far far exceeds his grasp. The stories of Mac and the others are, on their own, mostly pretty good as short stories or novellas go. They are especially decent for the genre they remind me of, that of the supposedly "realist" English and American literature of the late 19th and early 20th century. Let's put it this way: I would rather read one of these little stories of Dos Passos' than anything by Dreiser. But Dos Passos' attempt to combine them is amateurish (I had a similar idea and rightly buried it). Mac is our main character then disappears for well over 100 pages. The Camera Eye stuff is sporadic and its hard to tell the relevance. And the Newsreal stuff is just him saying "look: time is passing!" even though he does that in the stories. The biographical sketches are all well and good but in the wrong book. And he introduces a character (who just happens to meet someone who knows one of the main characters) as the last chapter! If there were literary crimes he would be guilty of a few, not the least of which is his inability to put his ideas together in anything coherent. I really hope someone has taken the undoubtedly innovative technique and actually written a novel with it.