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Now I wonder if Jon will explain exactly why he won't re-read this book?


Very simple, though somewhat embarrassing -- we Sophisticated Readers aren't supposed to react so primitively.

It was just too painful, and the outlandish crucial few moments were made so real by Barbara. On the theory that a well-drawn protagonist contains at least some elements that we can recognize in ourselves, I'll admit that there are moments when I can worry that I'm clumsy, socially inept, oblivious -- if not to the extent he is. (And in my more rational moments I figure I'm no more so than anybody else.) Anyway, when the double whammy happened, it was so outlandish and yet so believably prepared, I was almost as horrified as if I'd done it myself. I finished the book avidly, but I don't want to put myself through that moment again!

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I'm still clinging to the old notion that a book ought to stand or fall solely on the basis of its contents.


I understand and respect that, but I can also enjoy the discovery of a few words by the author in a new edition of a familiar book. Such as has been done with the recent paperbacks of Larry McMurtry's early work, for instance. Of couirse, on this website we already have the benefit of Barbara's comments on her books, and I wouldn't expect to see anything more extensive than that in an introduction; so perhaps the point is moot.