Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Damned (1952)

JDM's best-selling novel--it sold about two and half million copies, more than any single Travis McGee and more than Condominium, which was on the NYT best-seller list for six months. It's a portmanteau, profiling a number of different travelers all stuck in Mexico, awaiting a river ferry that has run aground. There are some interesting moments, mostly interior monologues that delve into the psychology of the varying stranded passengers. It's a seedy bunch in general: wanton woman and impulsive men. Despite its huge success I found this novel pretty disappointing. It was clearly an attempt at a critic-pleasing big-ideas book and it felt very over-written, contrived, and heavy-handed. I slogged through it, glad it was only 175 pages. It's shocking to me that this book was as big as it was but it's completely forgotten now. Maybe for the best. Can't win 'em all.

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