Justine by Lawrence Durrell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Like a banana going soft on your counter, smelling overwhelmingly--cloyingly--of itself, there seems to be something too intense about the prose in Justine, too intense about the destructive love affair it desultorily describes and discards.
I had to throw out the banana. I couldn't finish it.
If that sounds vaguely phallic to you, then I see I've hit the right tone for Durrell's prose. It's a shame, because I can honestly say that his writing in Prospero's Cell--a magical travelogue/sketch diary about the isle of Corfu--was some of the best I have ever read. Just incandescent. The prose here, however, feels bloated. I suppose it mirrors its subject somewhat: Alexandria. Can a city be bloated? Perhaps with trash and tragedy and poverty--the Alexandria inhabited by Justine and the narrator.
Read until you reach the famous line about cities taking on a new meaning once you love someone within the city. Then, honestly, you don't have to continue.
(I may actually pick Justine up again, since it does provide an interesting version of the metafictional novel. It wasn't right for me this time around, however.)
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