Friday, May 13, 2011

The DNF Files: A Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s

What a disappointment. I really wanted to love this book, but it seems scatty and unfocused. Author Ann Douglas crammed in every single bit of research she had done about the 1920s and the period leading up to that time, but it's too much. There are so many interesting individuals in these 600+ pages, but they are allowed one slim anecdote then she's bounding off to the next and the next. It's like being on an express train going 300 kilometers an hour and you're trying to look out the window at the scenery whipping past.
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A Terrible Honesty is crowded and teeming with life -- much like New York City itself, which was probably Douglas' intent. Since this book was published in 1995, it definitely predates Facebook and Twitter, but that's the feeling I get, like I'm reading my news feed after several days of not logging in. That's OK in that arena, but not so much in this one. I'd rather read several dozen books about this time period that have more focus and are researched in detail and judiciously presented. I appreciate the vast research Douglas put into the book and I plan to photocopy the excellent bibliographic essay at the back and transfer some of this material to my wishlist before returning the book to the library.

3 comments:

Thomas at My Porch said...

I read this years ago before I went to grad school and I must admit I didn't understand much of it. I am sure I would get more out of it now but I can't imagine ever getting around to it again.

Carrie said...
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Carrie#K said...

Bibliographic essay? I love it when authors do that.

The book does sound fascinating but possibly more as a Robert Jordan length series.