The beginning of this book gave me an eerie feeling; the focus wasn’t where it should be and all the things that seem important were later ignored or followed by a hazy resolution. It felt as if something was misplaced and the setting called for a different examination, more suitable to the expectations it evoked. The natural flow of story was chopped by a robotic hand or some other foreign and unkind force. Over the years of reading I’ve learnt that this aversion I often feel towards beginnings has a simple cause; the more peculiar and unique the story is, the stronger is my initial resistance and the longer it takes for me to submerge in. Once in, the foreignness disappears and there is a colorful and plentiful world awaiting.
But sometimes, like in The Secret History, the robotic hand is not a part of a secret book’s organism, but forms its general flaw. The props that were used in this book served only the author’s intentions and lacked any development, reason, root, or a life of their own. They were violently plucked out of any imaginable habitat and left floating around to be at the story’s disposal in times of need. There was nothing magical about bored college snobs that go on killing people out of pretentiousness. The theme that preoccupied many authors before was degraded to a flavorless, shiny popsicle.
Taking it as a modern version of Crime and Punishment, is not only an insult for the latter but also a very rough estimation of the former. Our values and fashions may really have changed, but human nature still has the same basic characteristic, reasons and laws that shape it. We are not floating in a void, even though the divine reason has abandoned us, waiting for literature to do whatever it wants with us. It can, of course, but that’s the reason why so many bad books are being produced.