Saturday, July 08, 2006

66. "Terrorist" ~ John Updike


Perhaps Updike relates too much to character Jack Levy, whose "sole remaining task is to die and thus contribute a little space, a little breathing room, to this overburdened world." This would explain the patchwork-quilt effect of Terrorist: one part political commentary, two parts religious questioning, and one part thriller.

Ahmad has devoted his life to Islam at the age of 18, detesting America's freedoms of expression as tasteless and dire. He sees his classmate, sassy Joryleen, surrounded by flames fanned by her lackluster Christianity.

Intelligent, Ahmad surprised Levy, the school counselor, when he says he is not going to college, but instead wants to become a truck driver. "But you can't drive hazardous materials until you're 21," protests Levy. Ooo, where is this going?

The dialogue is painful to read. While scrunching my face up for the thirtieth time, I remembered Harrison Ford's complaints about George Lucas's dialogue in Star Wars.

If one were to compare, one would bow down to Lucas.

There is some of Updike's characteristic dry wit, but it's so bone arid that the sentences blow off the pages in clouds of dust. This novel may answer the question, "Is it too soon to write about 9-11?" I would say, "It's too late."

.75 out of 5.0 Ice Picks.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

So you didn't like it? >:)

Anonymous said...

Updike makes my teeth ache.

MH

Anonymous said...

There have been a lot of mixed reviews - glad to see yours.