Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review: "The Fountainhead"

I've finished reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. And when I turned the last page, and closed the book, I thought well how on earth am I going to review this? Is this one of those books, like The Outsiders, or Of Mice and Men, or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, that 15-year-olds read and are profoundly affected by, but which when read at a later age don't have the same power? If I'd read Rand ten years ago would I be sitting down to write how it would "change my life"? I don't know, and couldn't possibly know whether that's the case ... nor do I know now, having just read the book, entirely how I feel about it.

I found the characters too narrowly-drawn, each firmly ensconced within his or her own little personality niche, which they never quite deviated from: not one person in this book ever does anything remotely surprising. But perhaps Rand meant them as stereotypes; if so, they function in that role perfectly well.

The dialogue between Rand's cookie-cutter-characters too often comes in the form of essays - I know very few people who speak in paragraphs, but most of the people who populate Rand's pages do. There were moments, when a character's speech entered its second or third page-long paragraph, that I was very tempted to just pretend I'd skipped a page and just keep reading. At times the overpowering black-and-whiteness of the whole book made me want to shut it up and put it back on the shelf. But no, I wanted to know how it all came out. I wanted the second-handers to get what was coming to them.

An odd book, in many ways, and I'm sure every person who reads (or rereads) it gets something very different. As for me, on this reading at least, I'm glad I read it - but I'm also glad it's over.

1 comment:

DangAndBlast! said...

I believe they were intended as stereotypes. I know in Atlas Shrugged they mainly were. Of course, I loved that one, and Fountainhead irked me throughout... (can't explain it, except for the "no means yes" sex part of course, but it just bugged me).