Monday, August 13, 2007

Picnic On a Deserted Island

I'm reading a somewhat tedious book... I hate to tell you what it is, for fear that you will mock me, or worse, for my pedestrian ways, my ... call them scandalous ... feelings ... for it is a famous book ... very famous. It is The Swiss Family Robinson.

Yeah, I know. A classic.

Like Old Man and the Sea, it should be exalted, held above my own meager attempts at prose.

But frankly, have you read it recently? And not for school, but just for fun?

There's no sense of urgency in the book. All the good pastor and his family do is explore the island where they just happen to run into rubber, natural soap, wheat, rice, pineapples, salt, flax, etc. etc.

And like the Professor on Gilligan's Island, he knows everything, including how to create spinning wheels for making cloth, tap rubber and melt it down for shoes, create glass, cure meats and furs, somehow jam a twenty foot five inch thick tree trunk into the middle of a huge tree and all other manner of amazing feats.

Our friendly pastor has the skills of a cooper, a metal worker, farmer, biologist, scientist, industrialist, and a whole bunch of other 'gists' and 'tists.'

Add to this a plethora of animals that don't seem to belong on the same island including a boa that lifted its head twenty feet off the ground (the longest Anaconda ever found was thirty seven feet long), donkeys, monkeys, eagles, kangaroos, angora rabbits, sturgeon, ostrich, buffalo, bear, hyena, George Bush, and more.

And the pastor domesticates almost all of them like some kind of Robinson Crusoe-Dr. Dolittle. Well, all but the snake... but let's leave the President out of it.

That's about all they do through the first three quarters of the book.

Anyway, it's pretty hard for me to give up on a book, so I hold out hope that there will be some intrigue, excitement, some... well, plot, dammit... in the final pages.

Crucify me if you will, but just because a book has a reputation doesn't mean that it makes for a fascinating read. Or am I just jaded?

The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness


Deb Larson said...

As a children's librarian - I hear you loud and clear. Many of those "classic" authors would not make it into print today.

Norm Cowie said...

Hey, Deb,

Thanks for the support. I was afraid people would treat the opinion like I said I hated puppies and kittens or something.